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Hollywood union authorized to strike

Sat Oct 20, 12:43 AM ET

Members of Hollywood's film and television writers union have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike anytime after their contract expires at the end of the month.

More than 5,000 members of the Writers Guild of America cast ballots, with 90 percent voting in favor of authorizing the strike, the union said Friday evening. Members voted Thursday.

"Writers do not want to strike, but they are resolute and prepared to take strong, united action to defend our interests," guild President Patric Verrone said in a news release. "What we must have is a contract that gives us the ability to keep up with the financial success of this ever-expanding global industry."

Since July, the guild has been in talks with film studios and production companies represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Both sides acknowledge they have not made progress.

Nick Counter, the alliance's president, said he was not surprised by the vote.

"Our focus is on negotiating a reasonable agreement with the WGA," he said in a news release.

A key issue dividing producers and writers, as well as actors, whose contract expires next June, is compensation for DVD sales and productions that get distributed on the Internet or in other new media formats.

The writers' current three-year contract expires Oct. 31, and their vote gives the union's leaders authorization to call a strike anytime after that day.

Studios and TV networks have accelerated filming of shows and movies and begun stockpiling scripts in case of a strike.

The last strike in 1988 lasted 22 weeks. Losses to the industry were put at $500 million.

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