Vote to end strike set for Tuesday

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UPDATED 2:33 p.m. PT Feb. 10

The writers strike is headed to an end Tuesday night after a vote by the guild's 10,500 members and the tentative deal between the WGA and the studios is expected to become permanent in less than two weeks.

The WGA governing bodies in Los Angeles and New York on Sunday unanimously voted to recommend a ratification of the tentative agreement the guild reached with the studios Friday night.

"It's not all we hoped for and all we deserved, but this strike was about the future, and this deal assures us a share of the future," WGA West president Patric Verrone said during a press conference Sunday.

The WGA West board and WGA East council voted anonymously Sunday to send a decision to end the strike for a vote by the guild membership Tuesday night.

Though the guild's leadership had the power to call off the strike, Verrone said, "We felt it was important to the members who had been out there on the picket lines that they are part of the decision to lift the restraining order."

The vote to end the strike will be held at two membership meetings Tuesday night -- one at the Crown Plaza Hotel in New York and one at the WGA Theater in Los Angeles.

WGA members will be able to vote in person and through faxed proxies.

If the membership votes to end the strike, which it is expected to do, writers can go back to work. Until then, no writers, including those working on the Oscar telecast, will be allowed to pick up their pencils, Verrone said. Only showrunners will be able perform their nonwriting duties in the next two days.

The ratification process is expected to take 10-12 days, according to WGA leaders, starting with them writing pro and con statements in the next two days and sending the materials to the membership.

While Verrone said the agreement with the AMPTP doesn't include "most favorable nation" language that would allow the WGA to get better terms if another guild negotiates them for itself, "if SAG is able to improve on our deal, we would get the benefit of that," he said.

At the press conference, Verrone also gave a report card on how the guild's negotiating team did, noting that it was able to achieve two of the three goals the had set going in -- establishing jurisdiction for new media and residuals from content distributed on the Internet.

As for the third goal -- extending the WGA's jurisdiction to reality television and animation, "giving up the animation and reality was a heartbreaking issue for me personally, but it was more important that we make a deal that benefited the membership as a whole, that solved the biggest problems in new media," Verrone said.

WGA's chief negotiator David Young pointed to the Golden Globes, which were destroyed by the strike as the turning point when the studios began negotiations in earnest.

In his opening remarks, Verrone thanked two media CEOs, Disney's Bob Iger and New Corp.'s Peter Chernin, for what he qualified as "instrumental" role in reaching the agreement.

He also thanked TV viewers "who understood our struggle and tolerated three months of reruns and reality TV."

Georg Szalai in New York contributed to this report
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