#NextChapter Resource Guide

A message from Council

We are excited to report that your Council is unanimously recommending changes to our constitution that will ensure everyone’s voice is heard in Council, regardless of what work sector they come from. These changes include creating three work sector Vice Presidents – Film/TV/Streaming, Broadcast/Cable/Streaming News, and Online Media, and when we hold officer elections, members will only vote for Vice President and Council members within their work sector. All members vote for President and Secretary-Treasurer.

Importantly, these changes will also formalize a requirement that Council members in their own work sector approve negotiating committees that are controlled by members who are working on the contracts.

Council has also paired these changes by unanimously voting for an organizing resolution that ensures aggressive goals to grow the Guild equitably across all sectors. The resolution boosts resources for organizing and creates a committee of Council members to meet regularly to advise and consult with staff about potential organizing targets.

Council is recommending these changes following months of meetings involving an outside facilitator and after taking into consideration feedback from the survey sent to membership several weeks ago.

An overwhelming number of you made your voice heard and took the survey – some 2,200 members, which amounts to nearly a third of the full membership. That also exceeds the number of people who participated in the most recent Council election. Many of you are clearly passionate about the future of our union.

While there was positive feedback, it was clear from the survey that changes needed to be made. Less than half of the members who took the survey agreed the Guild was changing for the better. Survey respondents also made clear the top priority above all else is negotiating and enforcing strong contracts.

Over the next few weeks, members will receive additional information detailing how we can move to the #NextChapter together. Watch your inbox for more details soon.

Michael Winship, President
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Vice President
Christopher Kyle, Secretary Treasurer
Monica Lee Bellais
Sara David
Ashley Feinberg
Kaitlin Fontana
Gina Gionfriddo
Josh Gondelman
Tian Jun Gu
A.M. Homes
Liz Hynes
Kim Kelly
Gail Lee
Hamilton Nolan
Benjamin Rosenblum
Erica Saleh
David Simon
Lauren Ashley Smith
Sasha Stewart
Kelly Stout
Tracey Scott Wilson

 


Table of Contents

Inside this informational guide about the #NextChapter campaign, you will find the following pieces of information:

  1. Summary of the constitutional changes to be voted on later this Spring
  2. A copy of the organizing resolution unanimously approved by Council
  3. A consolidated document with the referendum summary, the proposed new constitution, and the redlined version of the proposed changes
  4. #NextChapter, Explained – Town Hall Recap
  5. Timeline
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

Summary of Proposed Constitutional Changes

1. Protections on Collective Bargaining

One of the key concerns expressed by members was that decisions about contracts be made by the Officers and Council members who work under them. The proposed amendments stipulate that only those Officers and members of Council who work under the MBA will vote on MBA contractual matters, attend Joint Council meetings with WGAW, or serve on MBA negotiating committees. With respect to the other work sectors, only the Officers and Council members from the affected sector will participate in these matters.

2. Trustees to the Producer-Writers Guild of American Pension Plan & Writers Guild-Industry Health Fund

The Trustees will be appointed only by those Officers and members of Council who are or have been covered by these Plans.

3. Work Sectors

The current member work sectors (freelance and staff) are replaced by three new work sectors to fully represent the breadth of our union’s membership:

  • Film/TV/Streaming; (formerly freelance)
  • Broadcast/Cable/Streaming News; (formerly staff)
  • Online Media (i.e., digital, which was formerly classified as staff)

Members will be placed in a work sector based on the most recent collective bargaining agreement under which the member is working or has worked. Members who have worked or are working under more than one Guild CBA may appeal their placement if they would feel better represented by a different work sector.

4. The Council

The Council will be restructured and now will be comprised of a President, a Secretary-Treasurer, three Vice Presidents (one from each work sector) and 20 Council members. The number of Council seats in each work sector will be proportionate to the number of members in each work sector. Each work sector will be guaranteed at least two Council seats.  A new census will be conducted every five years to determine work sector seat allocation.

5. The 2022 Election

If the proposed changes in Council’s structure are approved, special rules would apply to our next election: Officers and members of Council whose terms have not expired will serve for the remainder of their terms, including the current Vice President, who would become the Vice President of the Film/TV/Streaming sector.  The new and expiring seats up for election in 2022 would be the Vice Presidents for Broadcast/Cable/Streaming News and Online Media; six TV/Film/Streaming seats; three Broadcast/Cable/Streaming News seats; and two Online Media seats (based on the 2022 census).

Nominations will open on July 1, ballots will be distributed on August 31, and the ballot count will take place on September 15.

6. Eligibility to Vote and Run for Office

Members in good standing are eligible to vote for the Vice President and Council members in their work sector.  All members in good standing may vote for the President and Secretary Treasurer.  To be eligible to run for a Vice-President or Council seat, a member must be in good standing in the applicable work sector for at least one year prior to the election.  To be eligible to run for the position of President or Secretary Treasurer, a member must be in good standing in the Guild for at least one year prior to the election.

7. Other Changes

In addition to these substantive revisions, the amendments would also make several related changes to align our constitution with the new governance structure. These changes include the composition of the Executive Committee, how vacancies are filled, who may serve on the Election Committee, and the thresholds required to recall Officers and members of Council. These changes are detailed in the redlined version of the constitution.


Council-approved Organizing Resolution

  1. Council shall increase the organizing budget sufficient to add three organizers and commit to maintaining that level of support unless there is a fiscal crisis.
  2. Staff shall prepare, and Council shall approve, a proactive organizing plan for the Guild. Council shall review the plan at least once per year.
  3. Council shall appoint an organizing committee made up of Council members from all work sectors that will meet regularly to advise and consult with staff about potential organizing targets. The size of the committee shall be determined by Council, but its makeup shall be proportional to each work sector’s membership in the Guild.
  4. The committee shall evaluate all potential targets, whether in animation, digital media, nonfiction, podcasting, streaming video news platforms, or new areas yet to be defined. In evaluating potential targets, the organizing committee shall ensure that the Guild balances its organizing efforts and grows the membership equitably in all work sectors.
  5. The organizing committee and staff shall monitor market growth and other changing conditions in each work sector and, when appropriate, recommend revisions to the organizing plan for Council’s approval.
  6. It is essential that the committee work with staff to deploy the Guild’s organizing resources in a fair and democratic manner.
  7. The committee shall approve targets that meet with the Guild’s strategic goals, as defined in the organizing plan, but if one-third or more of the members of the organizing committee does not agree that a given target fits the Guild’s strategic goals, that target may only be organized if approved by a vote of the full Council.
  8. At each monthly Council meeting, members of the organizing committee or appropriate staff will provide a status update on their efforts and request a vote on any targets that require approval by the full Council.

Memorandum of Understanding

  • It is understood by all that one organizer will be assigned to digital media except in unusual circumstances, as determined by the Organizing Director and the committee.
  • It is understood by all that abandoning organizing campaigns that are underway is harmful for the Guild and for the writers seeking representation. The committee shall not abandon campaigns for the purpose of achieving balance across work sectors.
  • It is understood by all that the goals in the Guild’s organizing plan are meant to be achieved over a period of years, not shop by shop. The committee shall allocate resources with a long-term view.

Documents

Use the link below to view/download the proposed changes to the Constitution.

Consolidated Summary, Clean Version, and Redlined Version (PDF)


#NextChapter, Explained Town Hall Recap

If you were unable to attend either of the #NextChapter Town Halls in April, you can watch a short recap of the highlights below.


Timeline

The following are the key dates for voting on proposed changes to the WGAE constitution.

  •  April 7: Council Vote
  •  April 18-May 22: Member education
  •  May 23-June 9: Balloting
  •  June 9: Ballots Due
  •  June 10: Tabulation & Results
  •  Council Elections:
    •  July 1: Notice of Nominations
    •  Sept. 1: Ballots

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this happening now?

Following last fall’s contentious elections, the Council has been working nonstop to find a resolution for our internal conflicts. In December, we hired an outside labor lawyer and a nationally renowned labor facilitator to assist us. Over a series of meetings, they helped us learn to listen to each other, respect our differences and find our commonalities. Similarly, we listened to our members, almost a third of whom engaged in our recent member survey. You told us the status quo was not working. Members wanted protections in place that would ensure their contracts were controlled and negotiated only by people who worked under them. Members supported organizing, but with more oversight and a clearly defined strategy in place so the union grows equitably across all sectors. The changes we are proposing will accomplish these goals.

What happens next?

Over the next few weeks, we will reach out to members to inform them about the changes. Please attend the upcoming Town Halls; read the proposed changes in the Constitution and the new organizing resolution; and/or approach your shop leaders, captains or Council representatives with your questions and concerns. Following that, we will hold a member referendum in May, in which you will be asked to vote in support of the changes.

Why did we decide to change the Constitution instead of the other solutions that were discussed?

The Council agreed unanimously that this is the best solution for our Guild at this time. The proposed changes in the Constitution allow us to remain as one body while ensuring protections for each work sector’s all-important contracts and benefits. We learned from the member survey that the strength and protection of their contracts is the top concern for all members, no matter their sector. This solution prioritizes that.

Are we going to continue to organize as we did before?

We will continue to organize aggressively — but more strategically and equitably. The Council has unanimously approved a new organizing resolution that addresses the issues that got us here in the first place. In recent years, WGAE unionized with spectacular success in a brand new industry, but did so without adequately informing the membership about the consequences. It is important that we continue to grow our union, but we will now do so with significantly more oversight and a clear strategy in place to ensure strategic and equitable growth across all sectors. Read the new resolution.

Why can’t we just split up, either into two locals or different unions?

Council discussed that possibility at length but, after months of intense, facilitated work, as well as listening to our members, we have come to understand that this is not the best solution for our Guild right now. With these proposed changes, we feel confident that we can give our traditional sectors the protection they need while helping our new sector become self-sustaining — all while remaining as one body. If circumstances change in the future, the Guild can reconsider organizing into locals.

How will elections and voting change under the new system?

Here are the four main changes, which will take effect in this upcoming election.

  1. Voters will be categorized by their work sectors:
    • Film/TV/Streaming (formerly classified as “freelance”)
    • Broadcast/Cable/Streaming News (formerly classified as “staff” and called Broadcast)
    • Online Media (formerly classified as “staff” and called Digital)
  2. Each sector will be represented proportionally on Council, according to the most recent Census. Based upon projections of the April 2022 Census, that will mean 12 Film/TV/Streaming representatives; three Broadcast/Cable/Streaming News; and five in Online Media. This Council structure will remain in place for five years, until the next Census.
  3. In addition to its share of the members on Council, each work sector also will be represented by a Vice President.
  4. Council representatives and vice presidents will be elected only by the members who work in their sector. The entire membership will vote for the President and the Secretary-Treasurer.

Will work sectors change as our industries change and new media emerges in the future?

All of our proposals are based on what the Council believes is best for the Guild as we are right now. If and when our industries change, we will revisit our governance and organizational structure to best serve our members.

What if I work in more than one sector?

Members will be placed in a work sector based on the most recent collective bargaining agreement under which the member is working or has worked. Members who have worked or are working under more than one Guild CBA may appeal their placement if they would feel better represented by a different work sector.

Where will podcasts be categorized?

Since we began organizing podcast companies in recent years, the Guild has categorized these shops as freelance (now Film/TV/Streaming) because the writing work is script-based and also gig to gig. These shops include Gimlet, The Ringer, and Parcast. As we go forward, Council will consider sector placement on a shop-by-shop basis; for instance, shops may be better categorized as Online Media or Broadcast/Cable/Streaming News if podcasting is not the primary activity, or it is already part of a company categorized in one of those sectors.

How will this affect my dues or my contract?

None of these changes will affect your current dues or contract.

What does the WGAW have to say about this?

WGAE and WGAW officers have been in close communication throughout this process. Our colleagues in the West support the need to change our Constitution to address our changing membership. We are working with their executive staff to do so in a way that does not jeopardize the relationship between our Guilds or our upcoming negotiations with the studios.

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