Candidate for Council, Film/TV/Streaming Sector (i)
Hello! I’m Liz and I’m running for re-election to the WGA East Council. Over the past few years, this council has navigated massive changes — implementing constitutional amendments, restructuring leadership, rejuvenating online media organizing, and now enduring a strike — with unbelievable dedication and grace. I’d be so grateful to continue serving you as a member of this body.
When I ran in 2021, I wrote about how joining this union materially changed my life overnight. What I couldn’t anticipate was all the ways this guild would continue to change me, in overwhelmingly positive ways. Not only am I closer to paying off student loans, nearly vested in a pension, and able to access great healthcare — none of which would have been possible without this union — but beyond these individual benefits, I feel deeply connected to the strongest labor movement this country has seen in decades. Even our most difficult moment brings the gifts of solidarity, community, and hope.
Writers are artists, but we are also workers, whose labor creates an incredibly valuable product. This strike has solidified us in the context of national labor. We could not have shut down productions without the unfathomably selfless solidarity from Teamsters and IATSE — the latter of which has negotiations coming up again next year, and will need our support. If re-elected, I will be one of many council members ensuring we continue to show up for our union kin and keep earning our place in the labor movement.
We’re also seeing unprecedented organizing across our entire industry — commercial PAs, podcast writers, VFX artists, video game workers, writers’ assistants & script coordinators — there’s so much untapped union potential here, and it’s incredibly exciting to watch these workers fight for what they deserve. The WGA will stand with them as well. As one of the best organized unions in entertainment, we can and must be a resource for our unionizing brethren.
When it comes to keeping our own house secure, I’ll work with fellow councilmembers to maintain and nurture digital organizing, continue to make demands for (and beyond!) DEI, and stave off the threat of AI so three years from now, we don’t find ourselves striking once again for our right to exist.
We don’t yet know what our current negotiations will yield for my sector, comedy/variety — but WGAE C/V writers can trust they have the greatest possible NegCom advocates in Greg Iwinski & Hallie Haglund. I look forward to fighting alongside them to keep what they win so C/V writers can enjoy stability for generations to come.
We’re also seeing, for the first time, real attempts to unionize writers’ assistants and script coordinators. As a former WA myself, this is thrilling! Currently, these jobs fall under IATSE jurisdiction. I’ve had some productive conversations with these organizers, and will continue to assist them and advocate for the rights of these (often underpaid, overworked) staffers whose labor makes our own so much better.
The moment we are in right now is the same story we’ve seen time and time again. Media conglomerates — whose profit and product begins with us — have squeezed us dry and rerouted the fruits of our labor back to their pockets. They’ve broken an industry that made some people rich and many comfortable enough to live. They think: “Hey, there’s a lot of money here — what if it could all go to 10 people?”
No more. That money’s not theirs. That art isn’t theirs. They do not have a monopoly on the right to a decent, secure life. All of that and more belongs to us, to our comrades in SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, and the Teamsters, and to all the future workers who will keep our unions and our industry alive.
Striking sucks. The picket line itself is always energizing and fulfilling, but the necessity of the act itself can be exhausting and demoralizing — especially when the other side of the table said they want us to be homeless in the news. Many of us are tired and sweaty and running out of money. Until SAG-AFTRA joined us on the picket lines, some of us were getting up at 2AM to form picket lines. I’ve been picking up bartending shifts to get by. (I don’t want to pay a penny more interest on those fucking student loans!!!) But I’d do it all again, and I know you would too.
We will never accept a bad contract as “just the way things are” or “the cost of doing business”. We will not be complicit in our own annihilation; we will not undo the decades of sacrifice from the workers who came before us; we will not destroy the future for those who come after. We will keep fighting together — during the strike and beyond — and we will keep winning.
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
Felipe Torres Medina
Taylor Kay Philips
* (i) denotes incumbent