Meredith Stiehm, president of the WGA West, talked tough about the guild’s upcoming negotiations with the AMPTP in her speech Sunday at the WGA Awards.
She opened her remarks by referencing Robert Altman, who she said was called a “good sheriff in a bad town.”
The WGA is now that good sheriff as it fights for a new deal for writers, she added. “We all know we kind of work in a bad town sometimes; there’s bullies, there’s schemers and people that aren’t on the level and try to get away with stuff. No writers are like that, of course. But the good news is, the town has good sheriff. And that is the Writers Guild of America.”
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She pointed to last summer’s case against Netflix that saw hundreds of writers recouping an additional $42 million in unpaid residuals.
Stiehm, co-creator of FX’s The Bridge, said the WGA is there to “stand up to people who aren’t playing fair.”
“We’re not looking for a fight. But we’re not going to get rolled…. we writers need a sea change in our compensation,” she added.
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A few days after the WGA unveiled its Pattern of Demands, Stiehm admitted that it’s possible that things will “get a little rough” but that the union has been there before “and we know how to stick together.” “The point of a union is to take care of the group, the whole group,” she added.
Stiehm closed out by wishing well to WGAW executive director David Young, who stepped down to go on medical leave last week.
Young, who has spearheaded multiple bargaining campaigns on behalf of the writers, will miss the upcoming talks with the AMPTP that are scheduled to begin March 20. The guild said WGAW Assistant Executive Director Ellen Stutzman will serve as chief negotiator.