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Writers Guild of America, West
Writers Guild of America, West
Founded 1954
Members 19,354 (FY2009)
Country United States
Affiliation IAWG
Key people John Wells, President
Tom Schulman, Vice President
David N. Weiss, Secretary-Treasurer
Office location Los Angeles, California

Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union that represents entertainment writers in the negotiation and enforcement of contracts with producers. WGAW supports writers in the areas of screen, television, and new media. WGAW succeeded the Screen Writers Guild in 1954. In fiscal year 2009, WGAW reported 19,354 members.[1]



Writers Guild of America, west building at the corner of 3rd and Fairfax

The WGAw began as a revival of the old Screen Writers Guild in 1921 by a group of ten screenwriters in Hollywood, angered over wage reductions announced by the major film studios. It became affiliated with the Authors Guild in 1933, and began representing TV writers in 1948. Finally, the new SWG was included in a merger of five groups representing professional writers on both coasts, becoming the Writers Guild of America east and west, in 1954. Howard J. Green and John Howard Lawson were its first two presidents during the SWG era.[2] Daniel Taradash was president of WGAw from 1977 to 1979. David Young is the WGAw's current Executive Director and most recently served as the Guild's chief negotiator during the recent "Contract 2007" negotiations - and subsequent 100-day WGA strike.

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 ordered its members out 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 US broadcast TV by sending 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.[3]

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.[4] The union maintains that the storytellers who conceive the tests and confrontations on such shows are really writers. [5] The Guild also expressed concern that the 1988 strike showed that lack of representation in the genre would weaken their future bargaining position. [6] Studio executives maintain that these employees are more editors than writers and that the shows need to appear to be unscripted in order for viewers to feel that they are real. [7]

As part of this campaign September 20, 2006, WGAw held a Los Angeles, California 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."[8]

On November 6, 2006, WGAw filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board after Top Model producers said the next season of the show will be produced using a new system that would not require writers. President Patric Verrone said: " they demanded union representation, the company decided they were expendable. This is illegal strikebreaking...."[9]

2007-08 strike

On November 2, 2007, both branches of the guild, east and west, called the second writers strike in as many decades, this time over writers' share of revenues from DVD releases and from Internet, cell-phone network, and other new-media uses of programs and films written by members. The strike vote followed the expiration of the guild's then-current contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. [10]


The WGAw is governed by its membership. Elections for an executive board are held annually by secret mail-in ballot, although term limits for the board of directors are two years. Following its 2009 elections, the members of the executive board are the following:[11]


  1. ^ 2009 Annual Report for Writers Guild of America, West
  2. ^ WGAw website historical timeline
  3. ^ Spitzer, Gabriel (2001-01-15). "Ouch! Remembering the 1988 writers' strike". Media Life Magazine. Retrieved 2007-11-02.  
  4. ^ Holland, Lila (2005-07-08). "The writers of reality TV sue for rights". Retrieved 2006-10-12.  
  5. ^ T (pseudoanonymous), N (2005-07-08). "A "Reality Slap" in the Face". WGAW. Retrieved 2007-11-05.  
  6. ^ Lowry, Bryan (2007-10-30). "WGA Baits but Switches on Reality". Variety. Retrieved 2007-11-05.  
  7. ^ Booth, William (2004-08-10). "Reality is Only an Illusion, Writers Say". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-11-05.  
  8. ^ Grossman, Ben (2006-09-20). "WGA's Verrone: "Every Writer Must Have a WGA Contract"". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2006-09-24.  
  9. ^ Benson, Jim (2006-11-07). "Top Model Takes Strikers Off Payroll". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2006-11-09.  
  10. ^ Britt, Russ (2007-11-02). "Writers Guild calls strike; walkout may start Monday". CBS Retrieved 2007-11-02.  
  11. ^ "WGAW Announces Final Results of 2009 Officers and Board of Directors Election".  

See also

External links



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