Members of the Writers Guild of America East voted in favor of changes to the union’s constitution that aimed to resolve internal controversy over its aggressive efforts to organize digital media.
98% of voting members approved the constitutional changes, while 2% voted against. A total of 1,607 votes were cast, representing a turnout of 24%. Members voted between May 23 and June 9 on the resolution, which proposed to institute new vice-presidential positions in three areas of work – film, television and streaming, broadcasting, cable news and streaming and media in line. The resolution also proposed to ensure that the board of directors proportionally represents the sectors of work to which its union members belong based on the results of the most recent union census, and to allow only members to be able to vote for the leaders. of their own work area.
“I am proud of the union and the way our leadership and council representatives have worked together, facing what often seemed like intractable issues, while reaching consensus,” said the president of Writers Guild East. , Michael Winship, in a press release. “We are now united and determined as we face the big fights ahead, from next year’s MBA negotiations with studios and networks to building and enforcing solid contracts for our new stores.”
The Guild, which created the hashtag #NextChapter to publicize the proposed changes, says board members arrived at this solution after “months of meetings” with a third-party facilitator and labor lawyer and after nearly a third of union members participated. in a union orientation survey.
In April, in an effort to more fairly organize all disciplines represented by the union, the board also passed an organizing resolution that forms a committee of board members from different work sectors who will collaborate with union staff on projects. recruitment.
The #NextChapter referendum and organizing resolution followed a debate within the Guild about its expansion into the digital media sector over the past few years. The conflict came to a head in a union council election in the summer of 2021: Ultimately, a slate of candidates advocating for the organization to continue in the digital media sector won, all the candidates on that ticket winning seats. The June referendum vote was seen as a way to address the debate between members who were concerned about the resources the digital media organization was using and members who were adamant that the organization in space was to continue.
The Guild says members will be invited to nominate candidates for the next council elections in July. Constitutional changes to board members will then begin to take effect, opening up seats for a new vice president for broadcast, cable and streaming and a vice president for news and online media, six board members from television, film and streaming, three from broadcast, cable and streaming news council members and two from online media council members.