Dept. of Labor defers WGAW election gripe

The Dept. of Labor has deferred a WGAW dissident faction’s complaint that the Writers Guild’s officer and board elections last September were conducted illegally. The ruling cites a federal law stipulating that unions must exhaust internal remedies before the DOL will investigate.

The complaint calls for the 1997 officer elections to be invalidated and for new elections to be conducted (Daily Variety, Oct. 17).

“We anticipated the Dept. of Labor would defer the matter to an internal union review as the law requires,” said Brian Walton, WGAW’s exec director. “We have always stated our willingness to review any concern about our election procedures raised by our members.”

Larry Gelbart, who is a leader in the dissident fight, says he does not have confidence that WGAW officials will conduct a thorough and impartial investigation.

“I am confident when all is said and done that the Dept. of Labor will be the final judge of the correctness of our complaint,” Gelbart said.

The process could take up to six months.

According to DOL regional director Russell Rock, a union has up to three months to conduct an investigation. Then, complainants have 30 days to ask government arbitrators to inspect the findings of the union. The Dept. of Labor then has 60 days to complete its investigation.

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