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Amendments End East-West WGA Feud

Members of WGA East and West overwhelmingly approved a series of constitutional amendments that were proposed in the fall as a means of settling decades of animosity between the two, the unions said Wednesday.

The unions, which have shared an affiliation agreement since 1954, said resolving the dispute allows them to focus on more pressing matters such as organizing and upcoming negotiations.

"Now that these amendments have passed, the two (guilds) can focus on our many shared goals instead of a few conflicts that divided us for far too long," WGAE president Chris Albers said. "This renewed partnership has been delivering positive results for months, and it's already clear that we're stronger when we work together."

WGAW president Patric Verrone echoed those statements, adding, "The agreement is evidence of the collaborative spirit between the guilds that has already produced a series of successes for writers as we look toward our (Minimum Basic Agreement) negotiations next year."

The constitutional amendments were ratified Tuesday by a margin of 72.9% (950 of 1,306 votes) in the West and 96.5% (389 of 403 votes) in the East.

The settlement was reached at a high-level meeting in October in San Francisco, shortly after Albers and Verrone swept into office on a platform of ending the infighting.

The agreement covered about two dozen issues, including a dues dispute that drove the unions to sue each other. Portions of the settlement required member approval, leading to the ratification vote to alter the unions' respective constitutions.

With the members' approval, jurisdiction between the guilds will be divided domestically east and west of the Mississippi River and internationally with the East having Canada east of the Manitoba Province, Ireland and the U.K. and its overseas territories, while the West will cover the rest of the world.

Member affiliation will be determined on the basis of where a person has spent most of their time over the past two years.

It also was agreed that any future conflicts will be subjected to expedited arbitration, the unions' share of members on a negotiating committee will be proportional to the number of members eligible to vote on the agreement, and each union will furnish membership information to the other.

Other issues did not require member approval like resolution of the dues dispute. In that matter, the WGAE has agreed to make annual payments for the member services that the West has been providing without compensation.

Jesse Hiestand writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

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