I have been a member for the Writers Guild of America — the union for screen and television writers — since longer than I care to remember, also served on the Board of Directors and something called the Contract Adjustment Committee (don’t ask!). The guild has a complicated and in many ways inspiring history. It has the justifiable reputation of being the most militant of the Hollywood unions, often having led the charge against the studios for the other crafts.
But that was in another country and, alas, “the wench is [almost] dead.” Like many organizations as they grow larger, it began to bureaucratize, become sclerotic (sound familiar?). The same faces showed up repeatedly, running the show long after their film and TV careers were over (which in some cases were not exactly illustrious in the first place). People got more invested in their union positions than in their work as writers, particularly strange since guild work is volunteer. Soon rules were being monkeyed with and the Department of Labor ended up stepping in to clean up the Writers Guild — a far cry from the old days, to be sure.
Something has to be done to cure this sick puppy, which so many of us love. A complete overhaul is needed. That’s why my wife Sheryl Longin (also a guild member) and I are backing Eric Hughes for Guild President in the coming election (to be supervised by the Dept. of Labor). I don’t know if I agree with Eric on everything. But I do know this — his heart is in the right place and if it weren’t for him and his campaign manager Ron Parker, the Writers Guild would be on the edge of turning into a low-rent version of the Teamsters. How sad and pathetic. What a desecration of a great history. Here’s Eric’s website: ERIC HUGHES- TRUTH FOR A CHANGE.
Already posted there are partial transcripts of the investigation into the recent Writers Guild election. More documents are to come. Even if you’re not a writer, you might find this struggle interesting. After all, we make up some of your dreams (and nightmares). We should be responsible to you – and to each other.