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WGA charts course

Guild spells out steps for going on strike

Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have mapped out the process for going on strike should upcoming negotiations fail to produce an acceptable deal.

The guild, which is stressing that a strike is not inevitable, recently disclosed the details to its 11,500 members in the wake of the March 1 suspension of negotiations. No dates have been set for ratification and strike authorization votes.

Although the WGA has said talks are likely to resume next month, no restart date has been announced. The union’s film-TV contract expires at 12:01 a.m. May 2.

The guild said the most likely scenario, after talks resume, will see the companies making a “last, best and final offer” with all issues in a single package. The 17-member negotiating committee then would decide whether to recommend acceptance or rejection, followed by a vote by the WGA West board of directors and WGA East council jointly on the offer to determine whether to submit the contract to a membership vote.

Should the board and council reject the offer, they likely also would recommend a strike be authorized. Members will decide first whether to ratify the offer and, if the board and council have recommended against ratification, members then would vote on a strike authorization.

Once a strike has been authorized, the board and council can set a strike date. The negotiating committee can, the WGA noted, return to talks and use the authorization vote as leverage “to resolve tough issues.”

Less than a week before striking in March 1988, WGA members rejected the companies’ offer by a vote of 2,335 to 76 and authorized a strike by a margin of 2,317 to 112.

WGA leaders received 89% backing last fall for its 42-item “pattern of demands,” from which the guild’s first offer was derived in January.

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