WGAW taps an organizer

Young to aid with improved toons, reality jurisdiction

The Writers Guild of America West has tapped veteran labor organizer David J. Young its director of organizing, with a goal of expanding guild coverage in reality TV and animation.

Young fills the slot vacated late last year by Gerry Daley, who was named the WGA’s first director of organizing during summer 2002.

Guild covers only a few writer slots on network reality TV and cable nonfiction shows, although it managed to sign up HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” last year. It also launched an organizing drive in 2003 aimed at writers working on nonfiction cable shows.

WGA also highlighted improved jurisdiction over reality and animation — where it has limited coverage — as one of its key demands during spring contract negotiations with studios and networks. Those negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers stalled nearly two months ago, and no talks are planned even though Writers Guild members are working under terms of a contract that expired May 2.

The AMPTP asserts it’s not required to bargain over the jurisdiction issue since those producers aren’t signatory and further contends that the shows aren’t written; producers assert that they’re on such tight budgets that they can’t afford to pay WGA rates. Guild argues that reality producers are often affiliated with signatory companies and that the shows should be covered since they operate off written outlines.

“The guild is committed to ensuring that writers working on reality, animation and nonfiction projects receive basic protections such as adequate minimum compensation, pension and health benefits, residuals, fair credit determination and other economic rights,” said John McLean, WGA West exec director.

Young, who began work at the WGAW this week, had served as assistant director of organization at the Laborers’ California Organizing Fund since 1999, signing up dozens of new construction industry employers to work agreements.

“Our goal is to create economic power and overall well-being for the membership and for all writers,” Young said. “This requires a coherent strategy and passionate implementation. I believe that the leadership is ready, and the membership is ready.”

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