John F. Bowman chaired the WGA 2007/2008 Negotiating Committee.
My Fellow WGAW Members,
As Chair of the 2007/08 Negotiating Committee, I’d like to point out some of the things which I believe gave us leverage and power in our last negotiation:
Unity with the WGA EAST
For the first time in decades, our two Guilds spoke with one strong and unified voice. We organized together, walked the sidewalks together, and stayed on the same page at the bargaining table. This time, there were no mixed signals for the companies to exploit.
Our Alliance with SAG
From 2005 until the contract was negotiated in 2008, the WGA leadership worked tirelessly to make alliances with SAG, DGA, the Teamsters, IATSE, and all our brother and sister unions. Due to historic differences between our unions not all those efforts bore fruit, but one key alliance did. Regardless of the direction SAG took after we settled, the unwavering public support from SAG leadership and members, many of whom picketed with us, others of whom were publicly willing to forego both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards in order to stand with us in solidarity, was a tremendous boost.
Executive Director David Young
Hired in 2005-6, David hit the ground running with successful campaigns to prevent network webisodes and mobisodes from becoming mandatory non-WGA work. In the negotiations and meetings before and after the strike, David was incredibly prepared, always respectful across the bargaining table, honest, patient, flexible when necessary, and a brilliant strategic thinker. The AMPTP’s desperate efforts to undermine him showed how formidable they found him. David is the future of our Guild, and I believe the relationship between our President and David is the most important issue of this election. If we have a President who feels his instincts are better than David’s, and doesn’t consult him, who negotiates independently, believing he alone understands the Guild’s best interests, we will return to the weakness that plagued us in the past. We finally have a strong ED. Let’s support the slate that supports him.
Private, not Public, Communications
We met with as many of you privately as we could. Private conversations are one of the most important ways to gauge membership support or displeasure. We were certainly influenced by those conversations, and took our responsibility to reflect the will of our members very seriously.
Still, we didn’t blog, and we didn’t circulate emails. Neither did the companies, by the way, unless they discussed the strategy beforehand. Like most of us, they know that to win, they must keep dissent within their own tent. Public displays of dissent are no way to succeed in a negotiation.
Your tireless picketing, enthusiastic turnout at rallies, hard work, tenacity, and courage were inspiring. You sent the strongest possible message to the companies, and in the end you were the leverage that got us everything we achieved.
I credit the leadership team that took the reins of the Guild in 2005 for all of the above. The work continues, as we organize new shows, reach out to the other Guilds, enforce the new contract, and stay committed to an engaged and informed membership. Our union is stronger now than it has been in decades. Our leadership has my full support.
Please vote for: Elias Davis for President, Tom Schulman for Vice President, David N. Weiss for Secretary-Treasurer. And for the Board: Howard A. Rodman, Patric Verrone, Dan Wilcox.