Verrone wins WGA West election

Guild president re-elected with 90% of ballots

Patric M. Verrone has won re-election to a two-year post as president of the Writers Guild of America West, garnering more than 90% of the ballots cast in the highest-ever margin of victory.

Verrone said the results, announced Tuesday, represent a strong endorsement of the policies and strategies of the current WGA leaders as contentious contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers resume today. The WGA East will announce its election results Friday.

Verrone, whose background is in animation writing, defeated newswriter Kathy Kiernan with 1,081 votes to her 118 following a campaign that was notably light on controversy despite what’s been an acrimonious start to bargaining a new contract. During the two months of campaigning, the 22 candidates refrained from criticizing one another and aimed their frustration and hostility toward the companies.

“This campaign was marked by an extraordinary level of civility and decorum,” Verrone said. “There was near total agreement among all candidates about the issues that writers currently face including proper residuals in new media and DVDs, WGA benefits for writing made-for-the Internet content, and improved coverage of animation, reality and nonfiction cable writers.”

Turnout was somewhat above last year’s election with 1,286 ballots cast, or 17% of 7,709 eligible voters — 130 more votes than a year ago. But the turnout was 36% lower than two years ago in the last presidential election, when Verrone defeated Ted Elliott with 2,012 ballots cast following a hotly contested race in which Verrone promised a more assertive bargaining stance and more emphasis on organizing non-union work.

Verrone’s allies on the Writers United slate won the other two offices with David Weiss re-elected as VP with 898 votes and Elias Davis as secretary-treasurer with 961. The slate also won all eight open board seats, led by Phil Alden Robinson (954), Peter Lefcourt (931), Tom Schulman (926), Dan Wilcox (905), Howard A. Rodman (850), Joan Meyerson (848), Nick Kazan (795) and Robert King (785).

Kazan’s the only newcomer to the board. Kiernan — who ran on a platform of better representing writers outside the traditional areas of screen and TV writing — will remain on the board.

“This was a clear vote of confidence by the membership in the direction and leadership of the WGA West, and I look forward to working side by side with them during these landmark negotiations,” she said.

Verrone said he’s hopeful the Guild can reach a deal by the Oct. 31 contract expiration, citing what he perceives as the town’s negative reaction to the AMPTP’s proposal. “Combined with this vote of confidence for us, we should be able to make a reasonable deal,” he added.

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