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Hollywood writers receive OK to strike

LOS ANGELES - The union for Hollywood's film and television writers has been granted permission to call a strike anytime after its contract expires at the end of the month.

More than 5,000 members of the Writers Guild of America cast ballots, with 90 percent voting in favor of authorizing the strike, the union said Friday evening. Members voted Thursday.

"Writers do not want to strike, but they are resolute and prepared to take strong, united action to defend our interests," guild President Patric Verrone said in a statement. "What we must have is a contract that gives us the ability to keep up with the financial success of this ever-expanding global industry."

Since July, the guild has been in talks with film studios and production companies represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Both sides acknowledge they have not made progress.

Automotive

Unions urge members to approve contract

DETROIT - United Auto Workers officials pressed for ratification of a tentative contract with Chrysler LLC as local union members continued to vote on the agreement Friday. Meanwhile, low-level talks were proceeding at Ford Motor Co., the last of the three automakers in this year's contract talks.

At least five UAW locals representing more than 8,500 hourly workers in Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Delaware were holding ratification votes Friday. Results weren't expected until late Friday or today. A majority of Chrysler's 45,000 UAW members must ratify the tentative agreement before it can take effect.

On Thursday, the contract suffered its first major defeat, when a local representing 2,100 workers in suburban St. Louis rejected the labor pact.

Banking

British firm chairman to resign over troubles

LONDON - Northern Rock PLC said Friday it was replacing its chairman, after two months of troubles during which the mortgage lender took emergency funding from the Bank of England and saw the first run on a British bank in nearly a century.

Chairman Matt Ridley, who has carried much of the blame for Northern Rock's troubles, is resigning and will be succeeded by former Standard Chartered PLC Chairman Bryan Sanderson, the bank said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

Northern Rock said Ridley "made clear in September that he was willing to resign," but was asked to stay on until new funding arrangements were in place and until he had given evidence to the Parliamentary Treasury Select Committee.

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