Tuesday, September 01, 2009

WGAw Election Mud-Slinging

The WGAw is in the midst of an officers' election. On one side is the Writers United group (incumbent Prez Patric Verrone, candidate Elias Davis, and WGA negotiation committee head John Bowman); on the other Presidential candidate John Wells.

First, we go to the Mainstream Media:

The contest to elect a new leader of the Writers Guild of America, West, took an ugly turn Friday when the union's current president and a key figure in last year's contract negotiations blasted John Wells, the writer and producer who is campaigning to be the union's next president.

In an e-mail to guild members, Patric M. Verrone, the union's outgoing president, and John F. Bowman, the former head of the negotiating committee, accused Wells of undermining their efforts during last year's contract negotiations.

The men alleged that Wells kept them in the dark about his involvement in negotiations that the studios were holding with the Directors Guild of America ... "As it worked out, after John publicly supported the DGA deal, without also publicly stating his own involvement, our hands as negotiators were tied," Verrone and Bowman wrote.

"We'd been on strike for three months and people wanted to go back to work. We understood this. What we did not understand, and still don't, is why one of our own would negotiate with the DGA without informing his guild's president or the chair of its negotiating committee ..."

Apparently Mr. Wells takes exception to their e-mailed allegations.

"Let me say simply and directly that Patric Verrone and John Bowman are not telling the truth, and that they know they are not telling the truth ...

"What I was doing was trying to find out whatever I could about the details of the deal[the DGA was] planning to negotiate, which would inevitably become the basis of our deal. And I was passing on what I could find out to John Bowman and several other members of the Negotiating Committee whenver I had something to report ...

And on February 10th, 2008 John Bowman sent me an email that said simply, and I quote: 'Good work on the deal." ...

So, why do I nadder on about an internal WGAw election? One that we have (mostly) nothing to do with?

Because the election outcome could well impact working TAG members. If Mr. Wells is elected, I believe there's a lower probability that the WGAw will hit the bricks. (Wells is considered more moderate, and less likely to use the strike option.) If Davis is elected, given the Writers United stance and track record, there is (I think) a higher probability the Writers Guild will strike.

And if the WGAw goes out a year and a half hence, or goes out on strike with SAG, TAG members could find themselves out of work for a considerable stretch of time when animation studios shut down for lack of scripts and/or voice tracks.

That simple.

And the Animation Guild could end up with the kind of collateral damage we endured in 2008, when hundreds were without work for an extended period of time, and the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plan took a financial hit as live-action and animated production shut down and Plan contributions slowed to a trickle.

Elections have consequences. And the ongoing WGAw and SAG elections could have major consequences for us in the not-distant future, which is why it's useful to be aware of what's going on.

We have close to zero leverage affecting the election outcome, but owning knowledge about what could happen after the outcome occurs will help in planning our futures.


DanO said...

Screw that whole union for the strike they inflicted on this town. The work drought that it caused was worse than any of the recession''s effects.

I have nothing but utter disdain and contempt for the WGA - and I'm glad they got nothing out of it.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

so this is pattern bargaining? hurry up to the front of the line to be the first to screw the little guy?

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness our animation guild keeps us constantly informed with what the WGA is doing while doing very little themselves.

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