Writers Guild announces election results

Members of the Writers Guild of America West have opted for incumbents in the guild’s board election, re-electing five of the six who were seeking the eight two-year slots.

In results announced Friday, newcomer Robin Schiff (“Ten Things I Hate About You”) garnered the most votes with 754, narrowly topping incumbents Katherine Fugate (749), Aaron Mendelsohn (741), David A. Goodman (740) and Kathy Kiernan (691).

A pair of showrunners and board newcomers — Christopher Keyser of “Lonestar” (610 votes) and David Shore of “House” (554 votes) — took the next slots and incumbent Mark Gunn won the final seat with 519 votes, topping “Mad Men” showrunner Matthew Weiner by a dozen votes. Incumbent Karen Harris followed with 463 votes, leading seven other candidates.

Turnout was mild with 1,237 ballots cast. The elections usually draw roughly 20% participation from the 9,000 members.

The election came two and half years after a bitter strike. During the campaign several candidates emphasized the need to prepare for another strike against the companies, if necessary.

“The fact of the matter is, in MBA negotiations, the companies have never given writers anything substantial without a strike or the threat of one,” said Goodman in his campaign statement. “In every industry, threat of a strike is the strongest piece of leverage a union has.”

The strike lasted 100 days with the WGA agreeing in February 2008 to a deal with similar gains in new media to those in the Directors Guild’s pact.

“Winning that contract required a brutal street fight, one from which no one emerged unscathed,” said Gunn. “I saw many of you lose jobs, opportunities, development deals, some even lost your homes. None of us ever want to go through that again. But let me be clear: if we must, we will.”

The WGA hasn’t yet set a date for contract negotiations for a successor contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The current deal expires May 1. It has named John Bowman and Billy Ray to head to negotiating committee.

“We need to be strong, unified and vigilant in the face of these conglomerates, and we need to finish what we started in 2007,” Mendelsohn said.

The DGA’s set to begin its talks with the AMPTP in mid-November following seven weeks of negotations by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists on Sept. 27. Those contracts all expire on June 30.

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