Computer kibosh condoned

A federal judge on Friday upheld the decision by the Writers Guild of America , West, to shut down all public forums on the union’s electronic bulletin board.

The ruling, from Judge William Keller, came during a preliminary injunction hearing in a suit filed against the union by three of its own members.

The trio — Fred Haines, Ferde Rombola and Joe Straczynski — had sought to force guild officials to reinstate the BBS public forums until their suit is decided in court. Yet Judge Keller ruled that the courts had no right to intervene in internal union affairs.

“I thought his ruling was very narrowly drawn,” Rombola said after the hearing. “I don’t feel that he addressed our issue at all.”

The challenge to reinstate the BBS’ public forums was really an addendum to the trio’s original suit, which concerned the constitutionality of a users agreement members formerly had to sign before using the BBS.

The three litigants sued the guild, charging that the rule violated their First Amendment rights by limiting what could be said over the public forums. Subsequently the union’s board of directors rescinded the requirement but completely shut down all BBS public forums. On Friday, Haines admittedthat the board’s decision to rescind the UA had rendered part of their suit moot. Yet he said that the First Amendment charges in the suit were still valid. ]

WGAW president Del Reisman called the ruling a victory for the union. “I sincerely regret that the feelings of disaffection of these writers went so far as to cause them to sue their own union,” he said. “But I am pleased that thus far the Guild’s policies have been vindicated.” -30-

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