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WGAW: Comcast Aims “To Destroy Unions”

WGAW Board Members Chip Johannessen and Patric Verrone have issued a strongly worded message of support the Comcast writers wanting WGA representation:

To Our Fellow Members,

“If the Writers Guild didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it.” — Legendary Hollywood executive Sid Sheinberg said that back in 1988 when he was president of Universal Studios. Mr. Sheinberg didn’t say it out of some great love of the Guild. The fact is we were on strike at the time and, if there had been some way to do without us, any self-respecting studio head would have jumped at the chance. But Mr. Sheinberg understood the role that our Guild, and all the other guilds and unions, play in this industry. A role that Universal’s latest owner, Comcast, seems not to understand.

Hollywood runs on a talented pool of what is essentially freelance labor. The guilds, every bit as much as the companies, make this talent pool possible by ensuring two things: First, that when you work, you’ll be fairly compensated. And second, that your pension and health benefits follow you from job to job. Projects and shows come and go, but fair compensation and portable benefits ensure that talented people remain. This guild-based ecosystem works to everyone’s advantage, including the companies. It makes our industry possible. Because talented people won’t follow their dreams here if, after 20 years of working, they’ve got nothing to show for it. And without the talent pool,

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Comcast vs WGA: Latest Guild Battleground

EXCLUSIVE: Comcast and the Writers Guild of America are battling over union organizing. Over the last several months the writers of Comcast Entertainment Group have quietly engaged the Writers’ Guild of America West for the purposes of collective bargaining with their employer. CEG is the cable entertainment wing of Comcast: it includes the E!, Style!, and G4 networks, as well as Versus, Sprout, and Fear Net. Here’s what we’re told is happening:

Inside the company our title is Script Consultant, Story Editor, Producer or anything other than Writer. We decided to send this note to to let you know that collectively we write countless hours of television across E!, Style, & G4. This is scripted television work that deserves the benefits of coverage by WGA contracts.

Instead of honoring our request for recognition, Comcast has chosen to stall and push this off until they feel it is convenient to them, [which is] long past the time they expect the merger with NBC Universal to close. While they work to reorganize their executive staff as if the merger were a fait accompli, we sit and wait for what is, by law, our right. Now, rather than adhering to their promises of good labor relations they made to the WGA, the U.S. Congress and other Hollywood unions and their acknowledgement that Hollywood is a union town, they have chosen to ask for an election with a lengthy hearing process —

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