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Writers Guild of America

From Academic Kids

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is the collective bargaining representative, or labor union, for writers in the motion picture and television industries in the United States. As of 2003, it claims more than 11,000 members nationwide.

In addition to establishing minimum employment standards for its members, the WGA is the final arbiter of screenwriting credit for film and television programs made under its jurisdiction. Indeed, the issue of proper credit was one of the driving forces behind the creation in 1921 of the Screen Writers Guild, the WGA's predecessor organization. Today, the Guild also provides health and pension benefits for its members, issues the Writers' Guild of America Awards, and runs a script-registration service to help writers prove authorship of their works.

For historical reasons, the WGA is divided into two separate unions, the Writers Guild of America, east and Writers Guild of America, west. Generally, a writer who lives east of the Mississippi River belongs to the east branch, while a writer who lives to the west of it belongs to the west. However, under the terms of the affiliation agreement between the two Guilds, any writer who works in theatrical films is automatically a member of the Writers' Guild of America, west no matter where he or she lives. The two unions are currently engaged in a non-binding mediation process to determine the disposition of the dues of members who live in the east but who derive all or part of their income from film work.

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The 2004 WGAW Elections

In 2004, WGA West was embroiled in a scandal, during which leadership changed more than three different times in only a few weeks. Victoria Riskin, having been elected in 2003, was determined to be ineligible for the post because she had not worked as a writer recently enough to qualify. She resigned and was replaced by vice-president Charles Holland, who resigned a few weeks later when lies about his college and military career were exposed and the board appointed Daniel Petrie, Jr..

The U.S. Department of Labor supervised a new election in September 2004 between Eric Hughes and Daniel Petrie, Jr.. Hughes accused the union of being run by insiders only for the benefit of famous writers, at the expense of new or little-known writers. Hughes presented a number of documents on his website (http://www.erichughes.net) which he alleged proved his accusations.

Petrie won the election by a 71% to 26% margin. (The remaining three percentage points represented votes for write-in candidates, or ballots that were left blank.)

WGA Awards

The WGA also administers the Writer's Guild of America Awards which honour screenwritting achivement in various categories since 1949.

See also

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