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Writers Guild sings same tune as composers and lyricists

April 19, 2010 |  1:36 pm

The quest by Hollywood's composers and lyricists to secure union benefits that their peers on the set enjoy has struck a chord with the Writers Guild of America.

At a meeting tonight at the guild's West Coast headquarters in West L.A., guild officials are expected to formally endorse a campaign by composers and lyricists to join the Teamsters.

"We're very supportive,'' said Writers Guild of America, West spokesman Neal Sacharow. "We consider composers and lyricists our colleagues and we believe they deserve the benefits of a union contract."

Unlike most other workers in Hollywood, composers and lyricists don't receive union benefits. A small group of them have been working for months behind the scenes to remedy the situation by joining Teamsters Local 399, which also represents casting directors, studio drivers and location managers.

At the request of the Teamsters, the board of Writers Guild of America, West, recently agreed to support the union effort and send a notice to TV writer-producers, known as show runners, to "make them aware of the issues confronting composers and lyricists."

Some prominent composers, including Hans Zimmer and Randy Newman, have backed the effort. Two-thirds of working composers must agree to join the union before the Teamsters will take up their case. If employers dispute the claim, the matter could ultimately go to the National Labor Relations Board.

-- Richard Verrier