In Depth

WGA Leaders Endorse Strike Deal

Writers Guild of America leaders voted to approve an agreement with media companies that would end a three-month long strike that has hobbled the television broadcast networks and idled thousands of workers.

The proposal approved by WGA board members now goes to a membership vote over the next couple weeks. The members also will vote Tuesday on halting the strike while the other ballot takes place. The deal agreed to by the WGA's board sets the stage for a conclusion to the most disruptive labor action to hit Hollywood in 20 years.

The proposed deal brings the two sides together on how much writers will be paid for use of their material on the Internet, WGA West President Patric Verrone said at a Sunday press conference. That issue had put the two sides at odds since the strike started Nov. 5.

Writers will get 2 percent of the distributors’ gross sales for material streamed on the Web in the final year of the three-year contract. The WGA also won access to financial information from media companies that will let them calculate payments, Mr. Verrone said.

The writers claimed a psychological and strategic victory on those points, noting that they avoided the fixed rate scheme agreed to during the last strike, when the union agreed to payments of pennies per DVD sold.

Even if writers ratify the contract, it may not spell the end of labor disputes in Hollywood. The Screen Actors Guild's contract expires in June and negotiations likely will involve some of the same issues. Still, the potential end of the writers' strike, and a deal struck last month by the Directors Guild of America, would leave actors on their own if they decided to take on the media companies.

Mr. Verrone said writers could be back at their desks as early as Tuesday night. The compromise came after he dropped two issues unrelated to digital media: asserting union jurisdiction over reality shows and animation.

The WGA West leader also said TV showrunners could go back to work Monday, before the Tuesday vote on ending the strike pending the final vote on the terms.