NEW YORK — About 500 unionized news writers could soon join their creative colleagues on the picket line.
The writers, employees of CBS News television and radio, are expected to overwhelmingly approve a strike authorization. Represented by Writers Guild of America East, the writers were scheduled to vote Thursday.
WGA drama and comedy writers are entering the second week of an entertainment industry strike that has shaken network and cable television, threatening popular shows such as Fox's "24" and sending late-night talk shows, such as Comedy Central's "Daily Show with Jon Stewart," into unplanned reruns.
The CBS News television and radio writers have been working under an expired contract since April 2005, WGA East spokeswoman Sherry Goldman said.
The strike authorization vote does not mean the writers _ who work in New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Chicago _ will necessarily stage a work stoppage, but neither side seemed optimistic.
"CBS News is prepared for the possibility of a writers strike. We will continue to produce quality news programming for our viewers," CBS said in a statement. A spokeswoman said CBS News would not have any further comment.
Goldman said the parties have not been at the negotiating table since January after the union rejected what CBS at the time called its final offer in November 2006.
She said the employees balked at a wage package that would pay television and network radio workers a higher wage than local radio writers. The union also rejected CBS demands to assign nonunion staff certain writing duties currently reserved for union employees.
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