Pierson parses WGA

Ex-prexy to head guild's governance group

The board of directors of the Writers Guild of America West has tapped former Guild president Frank Pierson as chair of its Governance Committee, formed to review election procedures in the wake of last year’s invalidated election.

Pierson served as Guild president from 1981 to 1983 and again from 1993 to 1995; he was also VP from 1979 to 1981. He is the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Pierson was named Monday night to replace board member J.F. Lawton, who was unable to continue as chair due to health reasons. The governance panel was formed after Victoria Riskin resigned from the presidency in January due to a finding by an independent investigator that she was ineligible to run for office.

The Dept. of Labor announced last month it would supervise a special presidential election for the WGA West in September as part of a settlement. That announcement followed a two-month investigation by the Labor Dept. of a complaint over how the guild conducted the election and the board’s refusal to order a new one when Riskin stepped down as president.

The Labor Dept. settlement calls for Eric Hughes, who lost to Riskin last year, to run in the September election.

The WGA West has contended its constitution precluded the board from holding a new election after Riskin resigned. Instead, the board appointed then-VP Charles Holland, following the recommendation of independent investigator William Gould IV.

Gould, former head of the Natl. Labor Relations Board, found no labor law violations other than Riskin being ineligible.

The complaint, filed by Hughes’ campaign manager Ronald Parker, argued that the board’s failure to hold a new election violated labor law. The duo also alleged guild staff unlawfully helped Riskin conceal her ineligibility and engaged in a scheme to promote Riskin and undermine Hughes.

Parker said he had not been contacted by the governance committee but expressed hope Pierson would open a dialogue with him.

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