Ruling followed extensive supervision of contest

HOLLYWOOD — The Dept. of Labor has ended its supervision of the WGA West’s hotly contested presidential election after eight months and officially certified Daniel Petrie Jr. as the winner.

Petrie easily topped challenger Eric Hughes in September’s contest, which featured extensive debate over the Guild’s strategy in contract negotiations and how it administers screenplay credits. The election was held to fill the one year left in the term of former prexy Victoria Riskin, who resigned in January.

The WGA announced Wednesday that the Dept. of Labor had cleared the WGA West in protests by Hughes and board candidate Maroussia Mirchevska as to how September’s election was conducted. It did not elaborate.

The feds agreed in March to supervise the contest in order to resolve complaints over how last year’s election was conducted. The unprecedented Labor Dept. supervision included monitoring every step of the election, such as mailings, Guild publications, voter eligibility, preparation of ballots and returned ballots.

The Guild also revamped its Meet the Candidates night to make it more attractive to members, and the event drew an SRO crowd of about 150 — far above similar gatherings in past years.

The WGA West agreed to the Labor Dept. oversight in March after department investigators found Riskin’s election to a two-year term last fall was invalid. Riskin had been ineligible to run because she had not worked under the WGA contract for the previous four years.

The settlement also called for Hughes — who lost in 2003 to then-incumbent Riskin — to be offered the opportunity to run in the upcoming election, to which he agreed.

That investigation had been prompted by a complaint from Hughes’ campaign manager Ron Parker, which included allegations the WGA West staff unlawfully helped Riskin conceal her ineligibility and promoted Riskin while undermining Hughes.

For its part, the WGA West has contended that an investigation by William Gould IV, the former chief of the National Labor Relations Board, found only that Riskin was ineligible and that its constitution precluded the board from holding a new election after Riskin resigned. Instead, the board appointed Charles Holland, who was dogged by questions about fudging his resume and gave up the post March 18 to Petrie.

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