Writers Guild of America West
AbbreviationWGAW
PredecessorScreen Writers Guild
Founded1954 (1954)
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Location
  • United States
Members (2019)
10,559 (full members)
13,881 (other members)
President
Meredith Stiehm
Vice President
Michele Mulroney
Key people
Betsy Thomas, Secretary/Treasurer
AffiliationsAFL–CIO, IAWG
Websitewww.wga.org
[1]

The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is a labor union representing film, television, radio, and new media writers. It was formed in 1954 from five organizations representing writers, including the Screen Writers Guild.[2] It has around 20,000 members.[3][4]

The WGAW and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), though independent entities, jointly brand themselves together as the Writers Guild of America (WGA), and cooperate on activities such as launching coordinated strike actions and administering the Writers Guild of America Awards. The WGAE is an affiliate of both the AFL–CIO and the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds.

Governance

The WGAW is governed by its membership. Elections for a board of directors are held annually by secret mail-in ballot. Half of the board is elected each year to a two-year term of office, and a board member may not serve more than four consecutive terms. In 2022 the officers are:[5]

David Young is employed as the Guild's executive director and Tony Segall is general counsel. Young served as the Guild's chief negotiator during the 2007 contract negotiations and subsequent 100-day strike. On November 3, 2023 the guild announced that Young will be stepping down from his role and will be replaced with Ellen Stutzman.[6]

According to WGAW's Department of Labor records since 2006, over half of the guild's total membership is ineligible to vote, comprising the guild's "post current", "emeritus", and "associate" members.[7]

Past presidents

Since the formation of the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) in 1954 there have been 33 presidents. [8] The first President was screenwriter Richard L. Breen, followed by:

Edmund L. Hartmann, Curtis Kenyon, Ken Englund, Charles Schnee, James R. Webb, Nate Monaster, Christopher Knopf, Michael Blankfort, Melville Shavelson, Ranald MacDougall, John Furia Jr., David W. Rintels, Daniel Taradash, Frank Pierson, Ernest Lehman, George Kirgo, Del Reisman, Brad Radnitz, Daniel Petrie Jr., John Wells, Victoria Riskin, Charles D. Holland, Patric M. Verrone, Christopher Keyser, Howard A. Rodman and David A. Goodman.

The current president is screenwriter and producer Meredith Stiehm.

History

The Screen Writers Guild (SWG) was formed in 1921 by a group of ten screenwriters in Hollywood angered over wage reductions announced by the major film studios.[9] The group affiliated with the Authors Guild in 1933 and began representing TV writers in 1948.[9] In 1954, the SWG was one of five groups who merged to represent professional writers on both coasts and became the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAe) and West (WGAW). Howard J. Green and John Howard Lawson were the first two presidents during the SWG era.[10] Daniel Taradash was president of the WGAW from 1977 to 1979.

In 1952, the Guild authorized movie studios to delete onscreen credits for any writers who had not been cleared by Congress, as part of the industry's blacklisting of writers with alleged communist or leftist leanings or affiliations.

From March to August 1988, WGAW members were on strike against the major American television networks in a dispute over residuals from repeat airings and foreign/home video use of scripted shows and made-for-TV movies. The 22-week strike crippled American broadcast television and drove millions of viewers, disgusted with the lack of new scripted programming, to cable channels and home video, a blow to ratings and revenues from which, some industry watchers argue, the networks have never fully recovered.[11]

In 2004, Victoria Riskin resigned as WGAW President after being accused by her opponent Eric Hughes during the 2003 election of using a sham writing contract to maintain her membership status.[12] She was replaced by vice-president Charles Holland, who resigned a few weeks later when questions arose about statements he had made about his college football career and his claim of having secretly served in combat as a Green Beret, a claim his army records did not support.[13] After Riskin's resignation, the U.S. Department of Labor investigated the sham contract and concluded that Riskin was indeed ineligible to run.[14] The WGAW entered into a settlement by offering to re-run the election under DOL supervision. A new election was held in September 2004 between Eric Hughes and Daniel Petrie, Jr. which Petrie won.

On April 17, 2019, WGA West and WGA East filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the four dominant Hollywood talent agencies, William Morris Agency, Creative Artists Agency, United Talent Agency and ICM Partners, citing movie packaging fee practices, which the WGA asserts are a violation of state and federal laws.[15] Approximately 95 percent of Guild members voted "in favor of a code of conduct that would cease packaging fees."[16]

During the week following its lawsuit filing; en masse, over 7,000 Guild members fired their talent agents, as "not just drastically out-earning them, but preventing them from receiving better pay."[16] WGA president David A. Goodman was then quoted as stating to NPR "that in a period of unprecedented profits and growth of our business ... writers themselves are actually earning less".[17]

Reality United

In June 2005, WGAW started a "reality rights" campaign to allow writers of reality television shows to qualify for guild rights and benefits.[18] The union maintained that the storytellers who conceive the tests and confrontations on such shows were bona fide writers.[19] The Guild also expressed concern the 1988 strike showed that lack of representation in the genre would weaken their future bargaining position.[20] Studio executives maintained that these employees were primarily editors, not writers, and that the shows needed to appear to be unscripted in order for viewers to feel they were "real."[21]

As part of this campaign, on September 20, 2006, the WGAW held a Los Angeles unity rally in support of the America's Next Top Model writers' strike. President Patric Verrone said, "Every piece of media with a moving image on a screen or a recorded voice must have a writer, and every writer must have a WGA contract."[22]

On November 6, 2006, the WGAW filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board after Top Model producers said the show's next season would be produced using a new system that would not require writers. In response, Verrone said, "as they demanded union representation, the company decided they were expendable. This is illegal strikebreaking."[23]

Work stoppages

2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike

Main article: 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike

On November 2, 2007, the Guild again went on strike, this time over writers' share of revenues from DVD releases and from Internet, cellphone shows, and other new media uses of programs and films written by members. The strike vote followed the expiration of the guild's contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.[24]

2023 Writers Guild of America strike

Main article: 2023 Writers Guild of America strike

Since March 2023, the Writers Guild of America had been in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The current contract ended at 11:59 PM PDT on May 1, 2023.[25]

Since an acceptable new contract was not negotiated, WGA members officially voted for a strike commencing on May 2, 2023.[26] The vote by WGA members was: 9,020 (97.85%) in favor and 198 (2.15%) opposed. Total ballots cast was 9,218 (78.79% of eligible WGA members). The vote set a new record for both turnout and the percentage of support in a strike authorization vote.[27]

On April 22, 2023, the SAG-AFTRA National Board voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of WGA negotiations with the AMPTP.[28]

In preparation, the WGA published its strike rules. The WGA Negotiating Committee is led by Ellen Stutzman (Chief Negotiator), David A. Goodman (Co-Chair) and Chris Keyser (Co-Chair).

On May 1, 2023, negotiations between WGA and AMPTP concluded without a deal.[29] Hollywood trade publication Deadline reported that as of May 2, 2023 at 12:01 am PDT the Writers Guild of America was on strike.[30] On September 23, 2023, news outlets reported that the WGA and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers were close to a final resolution and expected a resolution to be had by the end of the weekend.[31] On September 24, 2023, it was announced that the writers and the studios reached a tentative agreement.[32][33]

Magazine

Written By, the WGAW's official journal since 1997, is published six times a year.[34]

Writers Guild Theater

Writers Guild Theater, on South Doheny Drive, in Beverly Hills, is a 473-seat theater, with 2,000 square feet of "flexible space".[35][36]

Writers Guild Foundation

In 1966, the Writers Guild Foundation was founded by Writers Guild members to raise money for writers to attend the International Writers Guild conference in Los Angeles.[37] The Writers Guild Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization that is affiliated with, but independent of, the WGAW.[38]

See also

References

  1. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-078. Report submitted June 27, 2019.
  2. ^ "Writers Guild of America West" (PDF). wga.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  3. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-078. Report submitted June 27, 2014.
  4. ^ "WGAW Annual Report to Writers". Archived from the original on 2009-07-18. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  5. ^ "Officers and Board of Directors". Writers Guild of America West. Archived from the original on November 26, 2022. Retrieved November 26, 2022.
  6. ^ "David Young, Longtime WGA West Leader, to Step Down". Variety. Archived from the original on November 4, 2023. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  7. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-078. (Search)
  8. ^ "Presidents". Archived from the original on 2023-01-28. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  9. ^ a b "Screen Writers' Guild History". Writers Guild Foundation. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  10. ^ "WGAW website historical timeline". Archived from the original on 5 November 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  11. ^ Spitzer, Gabriel (2001-01-15). "Ouch! Remembering the 1988 writers' strike". Media Life Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2007-11-02.
  12. ^ Bates, James (2004-01-07). "Writers Guild Chief Resigns Under Pressure". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2017-06-19. Retrieved 2017-09-18.
  13. ^ "The last bastion: infiltrating the ranks of executives and creatives is the current challenge for African-Americans in the entertainment industry. (NAACP Image Awards) (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)". ((cite web)): Missing or empty |url= (help)
  14. ^ "Writers Guild of America West". Archived from the original on 16 June 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  15. ^ Littleton, Cynthia; Donnelly, Matt (2019-04-17). "WGA Sues Talent Agencies in Battle Against Packaging Fees". Variety. Archived from the original on 2021-10-29. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  16. ^ a b Donnelly, Matt (2019-04-22). "Writers Guild Says Over 7,000 Members Have Fired Agents". Variety. Archived from the original on 2019-05-04. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  17. ^ Ingber, Sasha (2019-04-13). "'Uncharted Waters': Union Tells Hollywood Writers To Fire Their Agents". NPR.org. National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2019-06-29. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  18. ^ Holland, Lila (2005-07-08). "The writers of reality TV sue for rights". TV.com. Archived from the original on 2005-08-29. Retrieved 2006-10-12.
  19. ^ T (pseudoanonymous), N (2005-07-08). "A "Reality Slap" in the Face". WGAW. Archived from the original on 2006-08-10. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  20. ^ Lowry, Brian (2007-10-30). "WGA baits but switches on reality". Variety. Archived from the original on 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2023-11-06.
  21. ^ Booth, William (2004-08-10). "Reality is Only an Illusion, Writers Say". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2005-09-20. Retrieved 2023-05-24.
  22. ^ Grossman, Ben (2006-09-20). "WGA's Verrone: "Every Writer Must Have a WGA Contract"". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2006-09-24.
  23. ^ Benson, Jim (2006-11-07). "Top Model Takes Strikers Off Payroll". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2006-11-09.
  24. ^ Britt, Russ (2007-11-02). "Writers Guild calls strike; walkout may start Monday". CBS MarketWatch.com. Archived from the original on 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2007-11-02.
  25. ^ Koblin, John; Barnes, Brooks (2023-04-17). "Hollywood Writers Approve of Strike as Shutdown Looms". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2023-04-29. Retrieved 2023-04-29.
  26. ^ "The 2023 WGA Strike for Dummies". May 2023. Archived from the original on 2023-04-19. Retrieved 2023-04-29.
  27. ^ "Strike Authorization Passes with 97.85% YES". Archived from the original on 2023-04-29. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2023-04-30. Retrieved 2023-05-01.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ Kilkenny, Katie (May 1, 2023). "No Writers Guild Deal Today, AMPTP Claims". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 2, 2023. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  30. ^ Patten, Dominic. David, Robb. Peter, White (1 May 2023). "Hollywood Hit With Writers Strike After Talks With AMPTP Fail; Guild Slams Studios For "Gig Economy" Mentality". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on 2 May 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ Darcy, Oliver (2023-09-23). "WGA strike: Writers Guild and Hollywood studios in 'final phase' of negotiations | CNN Business". CNN. Retrieved 2023-09-23.
  32. ^ Kilkenny, Katie (September 24, 2023). "Writers Guild Reaches Tentative Agreement With Studios and Streamers, Union Tells Strike Captains". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 24, 2023.
  33. ^ Robb, David (September 24, 2023). "It's A Deal! WGA & AMPTP Reach Tentative Agreement To End Writers Strike". Deadline. Retrieved September 24, 2023.
  34. ^ "Written By". writtenby.com. Writers Guild of America West. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  35. ^ "about". Writers Guild Theater. Archived from the original on 29 September 2022. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  36. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Writers Guild Theater. Archived from the original on 29 September 2022. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  37. ^ "Our History". The Writers Guild Foundation. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  38. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". The Writers Guild Foundation. Retrieved 3 May 2023.