2018 Candidate Statements

Candidate Statements
for the 2018 Council Election

The Council is the governing body of the WGAE, consisting of 19 members, plus the three officers (President, Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer). Freelance members work in screen, television and new media, and Staff members work in television, radio and digital news shops under the Guild’s jurisdiction.

Ten (10) council seats will expire this year, seven (7) Freelance and three (3) Staff. Voting will take place online beginning on August 23, 2018 (paper ballots will be available upon request). Voting instructions will arrive in August in a Guild envelope marked “Election Material.” The WGAE does not endorse or recommend any candidates for Guild office.

The eleven (11) candidates for the seven (7) open Freelance seats are (order determined by lot*):

The five (5) candidates for the three (3) open Staff seats are (order determined by lot*):

*The order of listing candidates is determined by a drawing of candidates’ names by lot, conducted by two Guild members with a WGAE staff member acting as witness.

*(i) denotes incumbent

Candidates for Freelance Seats

MICHAEL WINSHIP

Council Candidate’s Statement – Michael Winship – 2018

Endorsed by:

** Chris Albers ** Andrew Bergman ** Walter Bernstein

** Kyle Bradstreet ** Adam Brooks ** Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

** Bonnie Datt ** Richard Dresser ** Joel Fields ** Tom Fontana

** Terry George ** Tony Gilroy ** Mary Harron ** Susan Kim

** Brian Koppelman ** Christopher Kyle ** Warren Leight

** Kathy McGee ** Phil Pilato ** Melissa Salmons ** James Schamus

** Stephen Schiff ** Courtney Simon  ** David Simon ** Susanna Styron ** Joe Weisberg

I am running to become a member of the Writers Guild of America East council to be of service to the union’s membership. I hope to have your support.

Almost a year has passed since I stepped down after a decade as president of the WGAE. During those ten years, I believe that together we made great strides as a union dedicated to the cares and concerns of our members. After a difficult but successful, 100-day strike just as my first term began, through three other tough MBA negotiations; many other contract deals in news, digital and local shops and the hiring of a new executive director and staff, I’m very happy about what we accomplished.

In the last year, President Beau Willimon, Vice President Jeremy Pikser, Secretary-Treasurer Bob Schneider and the guild council, working with the membership, have continued to build and make our union even stronger, increasing the level of activism, growing membership and further protecting the rights of the members in the face of unrelenting anti-union pressure.

Working together, we have grown and expanded, increasing our ability to offer more and more to those who are members or would like to be. Executive director Lowell Peterson and the staff he has assembled continue to perform exemplary work, the number of activities and services offered to our creative community has grown and relations with our colleagues at the Writers Guild of America, West, and worldwide via the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG) are more collegial and mutually beneficial than ever.

What’s more, we have achieved major, headline-making success organizing in the ever-expanding world of digital media, thanks to our organizing staff and the commitment and bravery of the digital journalists who have stepped up with such brilliance and enthusiasm.

And all of this at a time when labor has been under attack by the three branches of the federal government as rarely before, taking a hit in membership at a time when study after study demonstrates that unions remain one of the last remaining bastions of income equality and security.

After a year away to think and reflect, it is my hope that with your votes, I can return to the council to help Beau, Jeremy, Bob and the other council members continue this good work, helping advance the cause while also being a sort of institutional memory as we endeavor to expand the reach of the guild while continuing to remember the reasons and values for which it was created.

Thanks for your attention.

Union activities: Currently chair of the Policy Review Group, International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG). WGAE President, 2007-2017; member, WGAE Council, multiple years; member, National Council, multiple years; delegate, IAWG annual meeting, multiple years; co-chair, first World Conference of Screenwriters, Athens, 2009; chair, WGAE awards committee, 1989-2004; member, WGAE publications committee, multiple years; current board member, Hollywood Health and Society; multiple nominee for the Writers Guild of America Award, three-time recipient; recipient, Richard B. Jablow Award for Devoted Service to the Guild; recipient (with president, Writers Guild West), Sidney Hillman Foundation Founders Award.

Credits: Writer, The Power of Protest (pre-production), 2018. Senior writer, BillMoyers.com, 2011-2017. Senior writer, Moyers & Company, PBS, 2012-2015. Senior writing fellow, Demos, 2011-2014. Senior writer, Bill Moyers Journal, PBS, 2008-2010. Co-producer, Baghdad Diary, The History Channel, 2007. Writer, New York Times Television, 2004-2005. Writer, NOW with Bill Moyers, PBS, 2003. Extensive experience as a writer and/or producer of documentaries and public affair programming, music-variety specials, made-for-TV movies and kid’s TV for CBS (My Sergei), WNET, WGBH and the nation’s other major public television stations, the Discovery Channels. National Geographic, Lifetime, the Disney Channel, BBC, TBS, A&E, ZDF German television (The Perfect War) and Sesame Workshop (Square One TV, 3-2-1 Contact Extras), among others. Recipient of the Emmy Award, the Christopher Award, the Genesis Award, the Western Heritage Award and others.


MONICA LEE BELLAIS

I am running for a Freelance Council Seat and grateful for the opportunity to introduce myself to WGAE members. I am screenwriter/producer with a global reach, well known for bridging the entertainment industry with Washington, DC area subject matter specialists in all spheres of government, military, and the private sector. I believe in empowering writers, and in making sure that their voices are heard despite the medium in which they express themselves.

I have worked at James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment; in the Office of Jeffrey Katzenberg at DreamWorks; Warner Bros. Records; Discovery Communications; Smithsonian Networks; Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); and TeleProductions International (TPI). I have firsthand experience working with filmmakers and production companies in Canada, Egypt, France, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Monaco, Pakistan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. I have always worked in service of the story, irrespective of the budget, the language, the culture, or the location. For a story to work, the writer must be empowered.

I am currently serving my third year on the Advisory Committee for Women in Film & Video (WIFV) in Washington, DC, after four years as an elected Board Member. I founded Spotlight on Screenwriters, now in its fifth year of publication under the WIFV banner and sponsored by the DC the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music & Entertainment, the Maryland Film Office, and the Virginia Film Office. I am also on the Advisory Board for the Double Exposure: Investigative Film Festival and Symposium, which highlights investigative journalism in film.

I work with various government agencies, not only to facilitate the necessary approvals for screenwriters/filmmakers and to generate interest and enthusiasm for their projects, but also on tax policy, incentives, and general policy matters of import to screenwriters and producers alike.

My professional membership includes the WGAE, SAG-AFTRA, PGA, National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – Documentary Programming Peer Group, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and The National Press Club.

DIVERSE VOICES

Promoting diverse voices in entertainment helps improve the overall quality of the end product. Different backgrounds equate to unique stories told, from authentic perspectives and results in a better production. I will continue the efforts of the Guild to bring new ideas and introduce new members.

PROTECTING JOURNALISTS

Never in the history of the country has the profession of journalism been under more sustained attack than right now. I will work with the WGAE to safeguard print and broadcast journalists as their work is continuously challenged by an administration that discounts their efforts to share news stories with local and global importance.

PRESERVATION OF UNION RIGHTS

To adequately represent the interests of members, the Guild must continue to be able to attract and empower members with concern for their well being and the bargaining power to effectively negotiate on their behalf in the wake of unprecedented challenges from legislatures and Courts. My work in Washington, DC will help the WGAE understand and respond to the political and legal climate; my work in New York and Los Angeles lets me understand and represent the concerns of members and those seeking to become members.

NEW AND EVOLVING MEDIA – NEW TECHNOLOGY

With the proliferation of both new media and new distribution channels, the definition and roles of the “writer” will continue to change. I will protect writers as they continue their fight for compensation and compensation models that reflect their invaluable contributions to finished works, and to understand how new distribution networks impact these compensation models.

I care deeply for the writers, and I would be honored to represent my peers.  Please vote for me.

In solidarity – Monica Lee Bellais


LARRY J. COHEN

Endorsed by: Tom Fontana, Kyle Bradstreet, Julie Martin, Bradford Winters, Anya Epstein, Brant Englestein, Jackie Reingold and Kate Erickson.

For over a decade, I’ve watched our Guild membership grow and solidarity hold as we’ve fought to get a fair deal for our work throughout the industry. I saw the ’07-‘08 writers’ strike firsthand (losing a job like many of you did in the process), then again with the close call this past year as a strike captain. Now more than ever, we need our union strong and community thriving here in the East. That’s why I’m running to represent you on the WGA East Council.

There are a lot of complex issues facing the Guild ahead. An on-going battle for a diversity tax credit for writers in New York State. Negotiations with the agencies to revise a 40 year old contract to represent our best interests. Upcoming negotiations with a more consolidated AMPTP for our MBA contract. And the only way to solve all these problems is going to be by challenging the status quo.

We’ve already seen that ‘status quo’ disrupted by streaming platforms fundamentally transforming our business. Those changes are just beginning. Throughout my career, I’ve worked at the forefront of those shifts with series on Netflix, newer premium networks like EPIX, international co-productions throughout Europe and films on Youtube and Vimeo. Those kind of projects aren’t going away, they are only getting bigger. I believe in the coming years the success of our Guild rests on staking our claim on the next major platform and mediums or we risk losing our seat at the table.

The WGA has always led the way in our industry with healthcare, residuals, protections and fair wages. If elected, I will fight to make sure those values remain as the cornerstone of our Union while we carve out a path for the future of writing in film, television and beyond. I hope I can count on your support.

— Larry J. Cohen


LISA TAKEUCHI CULLEN (i)

My name is Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, and I am running for re-election as a WGAE Council member. In my first term, I worked to push through a $75 million film and TV production tax credit in my home state of New Jersey. It not only includes above-the-line workers—in other words, writers—but also a diversity incentive. We succeeded in May. Here’s how.

In 2010, Chris Christie killed New Jersey’s film and TV tax credit because he thought the MTV show “Jersey Shore” made our state look bad. When Governor Phil Murphy was elected in 2017, the WGAE and our sister unions acted quickly to get the credit on his agenda. I appeared on a short film created to tout our case. Lowell Peterson and I traveled to Trenton to testify before the Senate Budget Committee. Fortuitously, my own state senator, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, was willing to sponsor the bill. I brought up the diversity incentive with her at a town hall I helped organize. I brought it up again in a meeting with her legislative aide.

I pressed the diversity case from the start because of our experience in New York state. Despite our numerous trips to Albany and continued, all-out efforts by our staff, we had failed thus far in persuading the governor there to add an incentive for hiring minority and female writers. I felt strongly that including it from the get-go would avoid a similar hurdle in New Jersey.

But then we hit a wall. Diversity would complicate the bill, said its other supporters. No one wanted to slow its momentum. Lowell continued to make calls, quietly figuring out a work-around with a former New Jersey Attorney General and other experts. When the bill landed on his desk, Governor Murphy vetoed it—because it didn’t include a diversity clause. He signed the amended bill in May.

Let me spell out what this means: if you open a writers’ room in Jersey, you can get a 30% tax credit. If you meet diversity standards, you get an additional 2%. So, say you spend $1 million a year on your room. You get $320,000 back.

I ran for WGAE Council for my first time two years ago because I felt it mattered who sat at the table. In the wake of #OscarsSoWhite and #blacklivesmatter and #whitewashedOUT, it seemed to me that to make change, we women, we people of color need to be in the room where it happens. I feel that change coming. I have served on the Diversity Committee for five years. Did you know that there were eight diversity-related events just this spring? I sat on a panel on aging and disability in media for the National Academy of Sciences. Did you know your Guild is working to represent these and other groups?

We have much more to do (among them snagging that tax credit in New York, which our success in New Jersey may goose). Our talented staff work diligently on our behalf, but we the Council decide which issues we tackle, which causes we embrace—and we, in turn, are directed by you. For instance, I have heard from women members that they would benefit from a community within the Guild, like the one they have out West. So this summer we will begin salons for women, starting with one for TV episodic writers.

About me: I develop TV dramas, currently with Universal and Viola Davis’s JuVee Productions, recently for NBC, Sonar, CBS, A&E and Warner Bros. Previously I was a staff writer and foreign correspondent at TIME magazine. I have published two books, one about funerals, the other about church. I was born and raised in Japan. My husband is a classical musician and we live with our two daughters in New Jersey, which, if you haven’t heard, is a great place to shoot your movie or TV show.

I am honored to be endorsed by Bonnie Datt, Tom Fontana, Joe Gangemi, Melissa London Hilfers, A.M. Homes, Susan Kim, Chris Kyle, Warren Leight, Jenny Lumet, Kathy McGee, Matt Nelko, Phil Pilato, Michael Rauch, Courtney Simon, Diana Son, Judy Tate, Tracey Scott Wilson and Michael Winship.

Thank you for your consideration.


MICHAEL RAUCH

Endorsed by – Eric Bogosian, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Joel Fields, Tom Fontana, Melissa London Hilfers, Warren Leight, Jenny Lumet, John Wirth, Stu Zicherman

Hello, I am a native New Yorker, I have lived here my entire life, and have been fortunate enough to work here throughout my career. There is no place better to write, shoot, or live. It was as true with the first film I wrote and directed, in 2000, as it is now with Instinct, the current CBS show I created and am running. The more things change the more they stay the same.

This phrase applies to our industry as well. The more things change (content distribution, media mergers, shortened seasons) the more they stay the same (studios will actively search for ways to screw writers). As our industry evolves so too does the urgency for the WGAE to be proactive and stay vigilant in protecting what we currently have, and making sure our jobs, and fees, stop shrinking, despite the fact that content continues to expand.

What do I know about writers getting screwed? As a showrunner I have had agents sell their clients out to me, ignoring the writer’s quote, saying “just offer X and you’ll close”. I was stunned by an agent leveraging down his own client, and while I refused this offer, it exposed how many ways writers can be cheated without even knowing it. I have been paid 66 cents to the dollar on scripts for a broadcast cable show that had a larger audience, and higher “prime” demo, than the broadcast network owned by the same company. I have been royally stiffed on backend money owed to me. All of these examples are a few of the reasons I hope to be on the Council, so I can fight to help prevent this from happening to other writers.

If elected to the WGAE Council I would bring my experience as a show creator/showrunner to the Guild. I have created and run shows on Network TV (Instinct – CBS, Love Monkey – CBS, Life Is Wild – CW), as well as Basic Cable (Royal Pains – USA, Beautiful People – ABC FAMILY) and have a deep understanding of how the studios and networks handle issues regarding writers, for bad and for good. I have positive relationships with creative and production executives at multiple studios and networks, as well as producers and agents, and would welcome the opportunity to utilize these contacts to further the goals of the WGAE.

I was a part of a Guild group working to keep writers’ rooms in New York, as well as to bring new rooms here. This entailed reaching out to studios, networks and agencies to enlighten them on the fact that we have a tremendous collection of talented writers here, and that many West Coast writers would be thrilled to move East to work. I also reached out to people who own stages here to get more room space built on, or near, the sound stages so that in our attempt to create more writers’ rooms in New York we can make them both affordable, and convenient.

Before and after the Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act was signed, giving a 30% tax credit, I contacted production executives to inform them about this Act. It’s an incredible opportunity that can create more local jobs for writers, but only if the people making those decisions know about it, and understand the cost benefits. The battle to claw back some of the money agencies take for packages is one that I want to fight, and love that the WGAE is taking on. I believe a percentage of the net that agencies “grab” should go to all the writers of that respective show.

Thank you for your consideration, and your time.

Michael Rauch


KAITLIN FONTANA

I’m a newer WGAE member, having joined in 2016 when I was a staff writer on a short-lived late night show (boo, short lived; yay, union benefits!). I currently sit on the Diversity Committee, and I have been a resource in the past on issues around harassment and gender-based discrimination in writers rooms. I have experienced both of those, which is not fun — but fighting them using the might of a union is.

I still feel like a newcomer to this guild in many respects, but what strikes me about the WGAE, and why I’m proud to be a member, is a sense of community and transparency. I do feel, however, that it can be a little intimidating to newer people to integrate — especially when our peers are some of our heroes — which is why I’m running for council this year.

I was a WGAE/Made in New York Writers Room Fellow last year, and that program showed me the benefits that opening rooms to more women and people of color in New York City would bring. We are not there yet, obviously. I would like to focus on redoubling our efforts in this endeavor both internally (with more professional development events and resources), and in helping liaise with Albany and beyond. I am also passionate in investigating how our guild can play a more integral role in supporting the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements in our industry.

Before I was a late night/comedy writer, I was a music journalist. I think that the members from digital newsrooms bring a new vibrancy and strength to the guild, and I feel a kinship with them from our shared professional backgrounds. I look forward to working with them and trading records if I am elected.

Finally, as a Canadian, my citizenship is for sale to the highest bidder. (Kidding, mostly.) Growing up in Canada, I benefited from a democratic socialist society and a household in which union principles were held in high esteem — seen as worth fighting for and getting angry about. My mother, a teacher, demonstrated that investing in unions and social programs and working for a better future through agitation, action, and protest was the highest form of civic engagement, next to voting. She also taught me how to swear, which has been just as valuable at times. In short, I have been engaged since childhood in fighting for unions and our work.

In our current political culture, with so much of what we do under attack, I’m well-prepared to join the fight in the WGAE. I can also make a mean margarita, which helps. Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll consider voting for me.

Kaitlin Fontana

Currently: Field Producer, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Past: Black & White; Franchesca.

Guild Activities: Diversity Committee; WGAE/Made in New York Writers Room.

Endorsements: Lauren Ashley Smith, Eric Gilliland, Sasha Stewart, Kim Kelly


ANDY RHEINGOLD

Right after I was accidentally electrocuted changing a lightbulb the first thing that went through my head (other than the electricity) was thank god I have my WGA health insurance.

A WGA member since 2003, I have written features (live action and animation), sketch comedy, and cartoons for kids and adults. Here’s the thing: when I’m on staff or running an animated series I do not qualify for WGA health insurance. And, you don’t realize how vital our guild insurance is until you are left to navigate the wild west of the marketplace on your own. If you choose to elect me to the WGA council I will strive to preserve, strengthen, and expand access to our benefits for current and future members.

With council members Susan Kim and Bonnie Datt I have had the opportunity to serve as a co-chair of the Animation Caucus. Over the past couple of years I have been working with the WGA with the goal of finding ways to grow guild jurisdiction for animation writers in the east so that more of us can enjoy the security of the guild health insurance. What gives me hope are the terrific in-roads the WGA has made with organizing writers of non-fiction TV, new media, and digital media. I believe it is fundamental that we continue the drive to add new members to the fold, which strengthens the WGA and increases the potential covered writing opportunities for us all.

In these turbulent, politically divisive times the security of our union benefits is more
essential than ever.

Endorsed by: Bonnie Datt, Steve Rivo, David Steven Cohen, Alana Sanko, Mike DeSeve


DAVID ANGELO

I am running for WGA council because I believe our organization could benefit from diversity of thought, as most issues are approached by the guild with invariant, uniform points of view that too often echo each other. I also believe my detailed attention to financial concerns would be a valuable addition to the council.

For instance, we recently (and narrowly) avoided a strike over health plan funding. This is an extremely important topic for members, though few seem to have a working knowledge of the program. For starters, the annual cost is much greater than your $600 deductible. The actual contribution to the health fund is 11% of every writer’s salary. For a typical working New York variety/talk show writer, that equates to about $25,000 a year paid towards health insurance. This is serious money; and needs to be treated as such. I’ve been all over the pay scale since joining the WGA about 10 years ago, so I am particularly sensitive to concerns about health coverage availability, as well as the efficiency and cost of the program and believe I would be a responsible advocate for any reforms and changes affecting it.

The WGA has also found itself at odds with talent agencies. I think a simple way for writers to take back some power is for the guild to follow the lead of other unions and list job openings internally for members. I don’t quite understand why so many New York based staff writers even need agents; you are giving 10% of your total income away just to hear about and submit to jobs. If a production company is a WGA signatory, those jobs should be listed for all members to see– it would be a welcome change for writers, both with and without agents, and shows would likely benefit from a larger pool of qualified applicants.

As we move forward to champion all the causes that are so important to the guild, let’s remember that it can’t hurt to also have someone keeping an eye out for your money!


A.M. HOMES (i)

As an incumbent Council member, I am pleased to be running for a second term on the Writers Guild of America, East Council.

I am endorsed by: Jonathan Ames, Adam Brooks, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Griffin Dunne, Tom Fontana, Peter Hedges, Josh Klausner, Adam Rapp, Theresa Rebeck, Salman Rushdie, Ira Sachs, James Sanders, Stephen Schiff, Amy Sohn, Scott Spencer, Tracey Scott Wilson.

Over the course of my first term, I have become deeply invested in the union and the needs and ambitions of Guild Members. This is a pivotal time in our field with regard to diversity, gender and harassment and I am keen to remain on the council to advocate for the inclusion of more voices, equal pay and opportunity. It’s essential that we continue to discuss how to create and maintain creative and respectful writers rooms. In that same vein, I am committed to working towards providing more points of entry into the field, along with sustained mentorship. And, an ongoing goal is bringing more writers rooms to N.Y.C.

The amount of profit we generate for Studios, Networks and Other Outlets will top 50 billion dollars this year and yet, while more writers are working, individually we are earning less. We must continue to push for fair compensation in all media and formats – as well as participation in keeping our health fund strong.

Activism is the fabric of my life. Growing up in Washington D.C., I helped organize events and demonstrations in Washington against Nuclear Power and in support of Native American Rights. When I moved to N.Y.C in 1985, I became active in the fight for Gay Rights and a response to the AIDS Crisis. At PEN, I served on the Board and Executive Committee and was Vice-President under Salman Rushdie. I chaired the Writers Fund from 2005-2015. The fund provides grants to writers in times of medical crises. I’ve also served on the boards of The Fine Arts Work Center In Provincetown and The New York Foundation For The Arts/Board and Executive Committee.

Currently, I teach in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton and am active in mentoring first generation and low-income students and sit on several committees dealing with issues of race/gender in the arts.

Additionally, I serve as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors at Yaddo and on the boards of Poets and Writers and The Elizabeth Dance Company.

Writing/Credits

Many of you know me as the author of Days of Awe, stories, and the novels, May We Be Forgiven, (Winner of the 2013 Bailey’s/Orange Prize), This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In A Country of Mothers, the story collections, The Safety of Objects and Things You Should Know, the memoirs, The Mistress’s Daughter and California: People, Places and The Castle On The Hill. My books are published in 22 languages, which puts me contact with writers of all kinds around the world. This exchange is enormously helpful in adding global perspective and context to my understanding of issues facing writers. In addition to my books, I am a Contributing Editor to Vanity Fair, Bomb and Blind Spot.  Several times a year I collaborate on book projects with artists, among them Eric Fischl, Rachel Whiteread, Cecily Brown, Bill Owens, Julie Speed, Michal Chelbin, Petah Coyne, Carroll Dunham, Catherine Opie and Todd Hido.

I’ve been a WGAE member for 17 years; my credits include Co-Executive Producer on David E. Kelly and Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes, Co-Executive Producer on Falling Water, Producer on The L Word and pilots for ABC, NBC, CBS, FX, SHOWTIME, and HBO. Currently I have multiple projects in development, including adaptations of This Book Will Save Your Life, and my novel May We Be Forgiven, as well as TV projects with BBC America and Julie Bowen.

I’ve been fortunate to be part of many communities and have a deep understanding of what working writers need and have been able to advocate for voices not often heard.  Finally, and most importantly, we are a creative community, which I am committed to growing into one that is open and inclusive and reflective of who we are as a society.


CHRIS KYLE (i)

I am running for a third term on the WGAE Council.  During the past two years I have served as a contract captain for the 2017 MBA negotiations, as a member of the Screen Credits Review Committee, and as a board member and treasurer of the Writers Guild Initiative, the Guild’s charitable foundation.  A particular highlight for me this term was the tremendous work so many of the members put in during the MBA negotiations last year.  We made significant progress in this deal—including improvements in short-season television compensation and a stronger financial footing for our health plan—and those gains were a direct result of our solidarity.

If I am elected to another term, I intend to focus on the AMBA renegotiation (talent agency packaging is taking money out of our pockets), our ongoing organizing efforts in digital news, and continuing to create resources for members dealing with sexual harassment.  Our Guild is strong and growing and I hope to continue working with staff and my fellow Council members to keep the momentum going.

Background: I have been a WGAE member since 1995 and served on the picket lines and as a credit arbitrator, but my real engagement with the Guild began when I became a volunteer mentor for the Writers Guild Initiative in 2008.  Over the past ten years I have worked with dozens of other members as part of the WGI’s Veterans Writing Project, mentoring Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who want to write about their experiences.  Under the leadership of Tom Fontana and Michael Weller, the Mentor Program has expanded enormously from our humble beginnings and has now helped hundreds of veterans and members of other underserved populations tell their stories.  The work I’ve done with fellow writers in the WGI inspired me to join its board in 2012 and to run for the WGAE Council two years later.

Endorsed by Chris Albers, David Auburn, John Auerbach, Henry Bean, Stephen Belber, Craig Carlisle, Andrea Ciannavei, Bonnie Datt, Richard Dresser, Josh Fagin, Tom Fontana, Ari Handel, Susan Kim, Kathy McGee, Phil Pilato, Willie Reale, Tom Sellitti, Susanna Styron, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, and Michael Weller.

WGA Credits: Serena, Alexander, K-19: The Widowmaker, The Weight of Water, Homicide: Life on the Streets.  As a playwright: The Monogamist and Plunge (Playwrights Horizons), The Safety Net (Broken Watch Theatre), Boca (Charlotte Rep).  Guggenheim Fellow in Drama.


KYLE BRADSTREET (i)

Kyle Bradstreet: Candidate for WGAE Council 2018

Endorsed by:

Bonnie Datt, Angie Day, Richard Dresser, Laura Eason, Brant Englestein, Tom Fontana, Thomas Kelly, Julie Martin, Michael Weller and Michael Winship.

Candidate Statement

As an incumbent council member, I am grateful to have been nominated for a third consecutive term on the Writers Guild of America, East Council. I have learned a great deal in my four years on the Council — the most significant lesson being how important and necessary community is to the WGAE.

Two years ago, I brought an idea to fellow Guild member Brant Englestein: a program called WGAE Sunday Salons. The concept was simple — to host casual get-togethers on Sunday nights that would allow Guild members to socialize, mobilize and talk shop over drink and food. Our ultimate goal was to further build the community that is the Writers Guild of America, East. I’m happy to write that Sunday Salons has been most successful in doing so by introducing Guild members who have not yet crossed paths and reuniting members who have previously worked together. Our union is stronger and more united than ever, and I like to think that Sunday Salons played a small role in our collective progress.

Additionally, by creating Sunday Salons, I’ve been lucky to meet a large number of Guild members and have had numerous conversations regarding the issues that are most important to you and your colleagues. New Media and SVOD pay scale, cable residuals, health insurance, episodic fees, relationships with agents and managers. I am fortunate to have spoken with so many of you, I have heard your voices and I share your opinions. I’m excited to continue to bring these matters to the Council’s attention, so that we as a union can keep doing our best to better the working position of every WGAE member. And I believe my experience in multiple TV venues — network, basic cable, premium cable, international co-productions — will allow me to effectively advise on the issues our union will face in the coming months and years, particularly the upcoming AMBA negotiation and the 2020 MBA negotiation.

 

I appreciate you taking the time to read my candidate statement, and I hope to receive your vote.

Kyle Bradstreet

Credits: MR. ROBOT (USA Network), BERLIN STATION (Epix), COPPER (BBC America), BORGIA (Netflix), THE PHILANTHROPIST (NBC).

Guild Activities: Writers Guild of America, East member since 2009. Co-Founder WGAE Sunday Salons. NY BookPals. SAG/WGAE PencilPals program. Writers Guild Initiative Actors & Writers Book Club. Active proponent for New York State diverse writers’ room tax incentives. WGAE Mentor Dinner host. WGAE / WGAW Joint / National Council representative.

Candidates for Staff Seats

JEFF YOUNG

My name is Jeffrey Young and I’m a senior reporter at HuffPost. As such, I’m a new Guild member compared to most of you. But in the short time I’ve been involved with the WGAE, I’ve already seen what union membership has done for myself and my colleagues at HuffPost and across digital media.

That’s why I want to keep the Guild’s exciting growth going, so that more writers can enjoy the protections and benefits that we do. A union is the best way to give workers a fighting chance to claim their rights. Solidarity among unions and with workers across the economy is a vital part of that and it needs strengthening. I believe serving on the Council is the best way I can contribute to the fight.

I’ve been a journalist for more than 15 years, working for a trade news publisher, a print newspaper, a wire service and a digital-native outlet. Our business is unstable and our jobs insecure, and that’s only worsened since I began my career. I was always jealous of my colleagues who had union jobs, but there was little interest in my workplaces for unionizing. Gawker changed everything.

When a few of my HuffPost coworkers began contemplating an organizing campaign in 2015, I was excited to get involved. Our company had problems and workers were being treated unfairly, and I wanted to be part of the solution. I worked on our organizing campaign and contract negotiations. I am so proud of my colleagues and the Guild staff for their hard work and so appreciative of the entire Guild for your support.

Our campaign was a huge success and we held tough together during the fights for recognition and our contract. That contract includes key benefits including guaranteed raises, generous severance and firewalls against interference with our editorial independence.

I currently serve as a member of our Labor-Management Committee, which our contract provides as the primary means for the HuffPost Union to communicate face-to-face with the bosses. Since the contract has been in place, our union has pushed hard to make management responsible and keep them accountable. We haven’t won every dispute, but without a union, I don’t think there would’ve been much of a fight about any of them.

Outside of my own shop, I’ve been pleased that the organizers at the Guild have invited me to meet and share my experience with journalists from several other outlets who are organizing.

That’s partly why I’ve been so invigorated to see newsroom after newsroom unionize. Among the leading digital media companies, we’re close to the tipping point where union shops outnumber non-union shops. This is remarkable progress. And I’m confident we’re not done. We have unfinished business in digital media alone, not to mention in other industries that don’t treat writers as they deserve.

It’s not news that our economy is getting more and more inhospitable to people who labor for a living or that our politics is becoming less and less connected to the lives of working Americans. By standing strong together and bringing more workers into the fold, we have a chance now to advance the labor movement and to stand as an example. Organizing at HuffPost was the most rewarding experience of my professional life. I believe in this cause and I want to do more.

Thank you for your consideration. I am endorsed by Hamilton Nolan, Kim Kelly, and Kelly Stout. I suggest you vote for both of them, as well as my fellow first-time candidate, Kelly Stout.


GAIL LEE (i)

Endorsed by:

Chris Albers, John Auerbach, David Steven Cohen, Bonnie Datt, Tom Fontana, Kim Kelly, Susan Kim, Kathy McGee, Matt Nelko, Allan Neuwirth, Bill Scheft, Hamilton Nolan, Phil Pilato, Courtney Simon

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I believe in unions and so should you.

Together we have power and a voice.  Sure you’ve heard that before.  But just because it’s a cliché makes it no less true.

Most of the benefits we now take for granted: minimum pay rates, pensions and health insurance came because workers in the past fought for them with their tears, sweat and blood.

In this age of Trump, we have to fight just to keep what we’ve got.  Not just for ourselves, but for the next generation.

I know.  When I first started at CBS News there were roughly 30 writers, editors and producers on staff in my department.  Now there are 15 even though our editorial output has doubled.

However unions are not only about economics and working conditions.  The labor movement has historically been at the forefront in the fight for social justice.  The WGAE continues that legacy with our push for workplace diversity, our fight against sexual harassment in the workplace, and our lobbying at all levels of government.

My credits:
**  Writer/Producer at CBS News
**  7 term WGAE Secretary/Treasurer
**  Current WGAE Council member
**  Recipient of 2007 Richard B. Jablow Award for Devoted Service to the Guild
**  Member (present or past) of Finance, Awards, Real Estate and 7 WGA-CBS News Negotiating Committees
**  Winner of WGA, RTNDA and Peabody Awards
**  Graduate of Cornell University’s Union Leadership Institute


MATT NELKO (i)

I have been a member of the WGA, East since I moved to New York City from my hometown of Pittsburgh in July 1995 and landed a staff writer position at CBS News/Radio.  I was elected to the Council in September 1997 and served four consecutive terms.  During that time I was active on both the organizing and marketing committees, as well as the bargaining committees for four national contracts with CBS, Inc.  After a decade-long hiatus, I was honored and privileged to be entrusted with your votes putting me back on the Council, and I humbly ask for your consideration again.

For many years, I served as shop steward at CBS News/Radio, as well as a de facto shop steward for the various network television news broadcasts at CBS (“The Early Show”, “CBS Morning News”, and “Up to the Minute”) – and now, in recent years, at ABC, where I have been writing, head writing, line producing, and broadcast producing all over the network (“World News with Diane Sawyer”, “World News Tonight with David Muir”, “Nightline”, “Good Morning America”, “America This Morning”, “World News Now”, and ABC News Digital).

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m a “freelance” newswriter – bouncing from show to show.  I work around the clock – quite literally – like so many of you do.  And like so many of you, I’m finding it harder and harder to keep pace with this new “gig” economy that the “1 percenters” who own everything are increasingly imposing on all of us.

Oh yes, it’s flexible.  Oh yes, it’s easy to move around.  But it comes at the very dear expense of the world in which so many of us grew up:  JOB SECURITY.

It’s impossible to really plan – and LIVE – a life when you are in chronic “job search” mode.  The “hustle” never stops for us anymore.  Senior produces, executive producers, and even anchors have a way of making us freelancers feel – despite our experience, awards, and industry tenure – that we are always just one mistake away from being fired.

Even worse, we are also seeing the erosion of our livelihoods within the media.  The Guild has done a magnificent job of opening up new frontiers of membership for our “digital” colleagues.  But it’s equally important that we really double-down our organizing efforts inside the “traditional” television and radio networks and stations.  “Digital” may be our future, but “TELEVISION” – marrying the written word to the moving image on a screen – regardless of size — isn’t going away; what it IS doing is evolving into the digital realm.  And the way the “old” media giants are doing this is internally phasing out the “old” (“expensive” union) writers, directors, and stagehands through attrition, and re-defining those positions by slapping the word “digital” in front of job title (and shaving off about half the salary).

In other words, non-union “producers”, “digital journalists”, “DNAs” (Digital News Associates), etc. are eating our lunch.  And it’s past time that we not only reclaim what is rightfully ours, but in doing so re-invigorate a labor movement that in this day and age of astonishing wealth disparity, is the last remaining bulwark in preserving the Middle Class.

Unfortunately, it’s also not just our jobs that are in jeopardy.  The #MeToo and #TimesUp movement dropped a bombshell on our industry, sending shockwaves throughout the rest of Corporate America, and shattering a false sense of complacency among many of us (at least those of us who aren’t female).

I admit that over my entire career, I’ve been blind to the daily struggles of many of my female colleagues.  I did not realize how many Men Behaving Badly there really are in our workplaces; apparently, being a gay man – and never really included as “one of the guys” – these MBBs did an expert job of masking their behavior around me.  And I did not pick up on the suffering that so many of my female colleagues managed to mask with a quiet dignity.

As a man, I blithely maneuvered myself through my career without a second thought about my gender.  I saw myself as a “writer” … a “producer” … a “reporter” … a “news anchor”.  Never as a “man”; I was just “me”.  I also maneuvered myself through all manner of workplaces – all hours of the night – up and down dark corridors and empty offices — without a second thought about my physical safety inside our “secure” buildings.

Sadly, however, all along they were not “secure” for all of us.

These past months have sparked many heart-to-heart conversations with my female colleagues.  I was flattered to hear that many of them used me as a “safe space” – a buffer against the male colleagues who I didn’t realize were actually MBBs in disguise.  But I was also deeply saddened to hear that these colleagues – whom I had always seen as equal (or in many instances, quite superior) to me even needed a “safe space” in the first place.  Clearly, our employers have been falling woefully short in creating safe workplaces for ALL of us.

Therefore, as we move forward, it is incumbent upon the Guild to not only make our livelihoods “safe spaces” within an increasingly labor-hostile economy, but also our WORKPLACES “safe spaces” for all of us – male, female, and the rich and diverse tapestry of everyone across the gender spectrum.

To be sure, it is a Herculean task.  But I honestly believe that people working together with positive intentions can truly change the world.

I humbly ask you to once again put your faith and confidence in me to help guide our union towards this vital undertaking.

I am honored and privileged to have the endorsements of my fellow newswriter and CBS News colleague Gail Lee, as well as Bonnie Datt, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, and Amy Sohn.


KATHY McGEE (i)

Kathy McGee:  A Stronger Future

I am extremely proud to have served on the Writers Guild of America, East Council since 2014.  I ask for your support and vote as I seek another term.

As a member of the WGAE’s Diversity Committee, I work closely with a team of writers committed to making our union stronger.  It is important work as we strive to make sure all members have an opportunity to tell their stories.  We need more voices, more participation and a determination to empower ALL members. I applaud the accomplishments of so many WGAE members and WGAE staff to grow our union.  We are showing terrific leadership that other unions admire.  But there’s so much more work to do and I look forward to the future of building an even stronger Writers Guild of America, East.

Since joining the WGAE in 1997, I have encouraged others to embrace the importance of membership as well as leadership.  As a shop leader at WCBS-TV, I help members understand the CBS contract, including how to resolve pay discrepancies.

I am honored to have the endorsements of Henry Bean, Cristine Chambers, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Hamilton Nolan, Chris Kyle, Gail Lee, Cristina Mila, Phil Pilato, Theresa Rebeck, Erika Roberson, Courtney Simon, Judy Tate, Tracey Scott Wilson and Michael Winship.

The changes in our news and entertainment industries are challenging, but also rewarding.  I prefer an optimistic look into the future and how WGAE members will play a vital role in shaping content and structure in these industries.

Thank you for your consideration.  In solidarity.

Kathy McGee


KELLY STOUT

In early 2018 my colleagues at Gizmodo Media Group and I found ourselves in the unenviable, but now familiar position of facing corporate-mandated layoffs. We benefited enormously from the strength of our union; with the support of the WGAE, we negotiated for a buyout instead of a layoff, allowing our workers to choose their own future, rather than be handed one by management who knew little about their work or their families.

This is a labor success story, but one that is the exception, rather than the rule in digital media, as we watch layoffs hit newsrooms with little warning, often hurting the most marginalized–women, trans and nonbinary people, people of color, older workers, those raised in poverty–hardest and first. I feel fear for the newsrooms that don’t have the protections that we negotiated for at GMG, but we can change that.

Let’s work to organize more digital newsrooms. Let’s look to our colleagues from TV and film and learn from their inspiring legacy as we build this movement in a digital media. Let’s stand in solidarity not just with workers in our industry, but with the broader labor movement. To quote my friend and colleague Hamilton Nolan, “The bigger we are, the stronger we are, the better we are.” Digital media workers deserve a strong voice in the WGAE Council; this is why Jeff Young and I are running for council, and would be grateful for your vote.

I believe deeply that solidarity is the best weapon we have in the fight against inequality, and it starts in our own industry, with a strong union that seeks to bring as many workers into our fold as possible. I’m endorsed by Hamilton Nolan, Kim Kelly, and Jeff Young.