Howard Rodman has been elected President of the WGA West, handily defeating former board member Joan Meyerson by a 2-1 margin (1,557 votes to 749 votes). Rodman, who had been the guild’s Vice President, succeeds Chris Keyser, who was precluded by guild rules from seeking a third term. Earlier today, it was announced that David Goodman defeated Carl Gottlieb for VP.
Rodman, who was a board member during the WGA’s 2007-08 strike, will preside over the guild during the next round of contract talks in 2017. In his campaign statement, he called that strike – which won jurisdiction over the Internet and new media – “easily the essential victory of this century,” telling guild members: “If you don’t think so: Imagine a world in which Orange Is The New Black and everything else in the Netflix/Amazon/Google universe were not covered by our Guild.”
Getting tough with the companies in 2017 was a major part of his campaign, telling members in his candidate statement that all the guilds need to work together in future contract talks. “In our last negotiation we worked more closely with our sister guilds, in particular the DGA, than at any time in recent memory. Yet the companies negotiate as one, bargaining with each of us in turn – and the first deal reached is often imposed as ‘the pattern.’ Clearly logic would mandate that we negotiate together with our fellow guilds: We have far more in common than not. Until we can make that happen, we will always be negotiating for gains that are at best arithmetical, even as our employers’ profits increase exponentially. This is an era where the companies are doing astonishingly well – the companies’ profits have doubled in the last decade, now approaching $50 billion a year. So much of that profit originates with our work. The companies forget that. It’s our job to make sure they don’t.”
Among the many issues he feels need to be address moving forward, he said, include putting an end to “paper teams,” where two writers are forced to work together for half the pay. For this “privilege of lying to the world,” he said, “you get your salary cut in half.”
Rodman said he’d also tackle sweepstakes pitching, where many writers are called in to pitch on the same idea, which he said “more resembles R&D than it does any rational hiring practice.” He said he’d also fight against “the seemingly endless number of free pre-writes necessary to get the job; the seemingly endless number of free re-writes necessary once you have the job; two seasons being called one season (with an ‘A’ and ‘B’) so that nobody gets a bump; one-draft deals, where you do the same work for roughly two-thirds the pay; the wholesale erosion of the quote system, and ultra-tight budgets presented as take-it-or-leave-it.”
All of these, he wrote, “are designed to perform just three simple functions: to sell an arbitrary piece of cost containment as natural or inevitable, while ignoring how profitable the business has become; to offload risk from the companies to us, and in the end, to transfer money from our pockets to those of others. Our friends, colleagues, agents, managers will often urge us to accept these practices as ‘the way it is.’ Our guild should not, and under my leadership, won’t.”
In the race for eight open board races, the top vote-getter was Billy Ray with 1,688, followed by Meredith Stiehm (1,601), Andrea Berloff (1,465), Mara Brock Akil (1,402), Luvh Rakhe (1,317), Zak Penn (1,165), Carleton Eastlake (1,100), Ari B. Rubin (988). In addition the ninth Board member – Patric M. Verrone (inc. was elected for a one-year term to fill the vacancy created by Mendelsohn’s election to the Secretary-Treasurer position.