November 9, 2007
I was sorry to learn that you believe that the Guild erred in not consulting AFTRA before releasing our statement concerning Ellen DeGeneres. I assure you that we have great respect for AFTRA, its members and staff, and we are deeply grateful for the generous support of the many AFTRA members supporting our strike by withholding their services and/or joining our picket lines and rallies.
As I indicated in the telephone conversation to which you referred, it is not the Guild’s intention to involve any union, such as your own, in our efforts to encourage individuals to withhold their services. What we ask of them are acts of individual conscience. There are unions with much narrower no strike clauses which we have approached directly and have been able to help us. I am sorry that I did not elaborate on this point in our conversation and make sure that I was understood.
Moreover, with regard to Ms. DeGeneres, she is a Writers Guild member as well as an AFTRAn. The writing of her show is always done by Writers Guild members and, therefore, constitutes struck work. Beyond any issue of membership, there is the obvious ethical issue, which is clearly present in Ms. DeGeneres’ decision to write and produce a show without writers in the face of an industrywide walkout by 12,000 writers. Such a decision cannot be redeemed by your spirited and eloquent defense. I understand that AFTRA cannot call upon Ms. DeGeneres to respect our strike. But the Writers Guild can and must.
WGAE Executive Director