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California and the West

Writers Guild Units Drop Suits

October 07, 2005|Richard Verrier | Times Staff Writer

The two branches of the union representing TV and film writers are exchanging swords for pens.

The eastern and western divisions of the Writers Guild of America declared a truce in their war over financial issues Thursday, announcing that they were temporarily withdrawing lawsuits against each other.

"Too much money has been spent on lawyers," wrote Patric M. Verrone and Chris Albers, the presidents of the West and East Coast branches, respectively, in an open letter to members. "It's time to invest our funds in organizing and working together."

In a lawsuit filed in April in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the WGA, West, said union rules required arbitration over its claim that it was subsidizing its sister union by more than $1 million in dues and unreimbursed services.

The WGA, East, called the financial demands a shakedown. In a suit in U.S. District Court in New York, it alleged that arbitration was not required.

Citing a "new spirit of cooperation," the newly elected union presidents expressed optimism that the unions would be able to settle the legal dispute in negotiations set to begin Oct. 22 in San Francisco.

The presidents also said the unions were teaming up in other ways, joining forces last week in a New York protest aimed at drawing attention to the working conditions of reality TV writers.

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