After a Fractious Election, Will the WGA East Un-Pause Newsroom Organizing?

A divided WGAE Council meets next on October 7

Last week, the WGA East concluded an election for council and guild officers marked by heated town halls, biting email campaigns, and existential questions that exposed deep rifts in the union across generational, ideological, and industry lines with a big surprise: The Solidarity Slate, which favors continued organizing of newsrooms won over the Inclusion & Experience slate which wants to limit new membership to TV and film screenwriters who have traditionally made up the union.

While Solidarity had lots to celebrate — all seven of its candidates won seats on the WGAE council — Inclusion & Experience won four council seats itself, including screenwriter David Simon, one of the most outspoken advocates of a “pause” on organizing journalists, as well as all three of the guild leadership positions of president, vice president, and secretary-treasurer.

WGAE members will get to see how this divided guild government works together on October 7, when the WGAE Council reconvenes for the first time since the election. One of the first orders of business will presumably be to decide the fate of the media shop whose admission to the Guild was blocked earlier this year, kicking off the election fight. (Off the Record is withholding the identity of the publication since they have not yet notified management of their union effort.)

According to Hamilton Nolan, a labor reporter for In These Times who was re-elected to the council, the election results should make the decision to admit the shop an easy one. “The election was basically a referendum on organizing and the future of the Writers Guild,” he said, “and people voted for what they want.”

“The other faction says they want to have this conversation about the future of the Guild, and our strategy and where we’re going and numbers and all that stuff. Okay, fine,” Nolan said, “we can have this conversation. But you’re not supposed to change the subject of negotiation while you do the negotiation. [The pause] shouldn’t have happened in the first place. And I hope that we will be changing that soon. But we’ll see.”