Strong Show of Support for Incumbent President as Strike Enters Fifth Month
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In a resounding display of support, Meredith Stiehm has been reelected as the President of the Writers Guild of America West (WGA West) as the union’s strike continues into its fifth month. Stiehm secured an impressive 3,354 votes, soundly defeating her challenger, Rich Talarico, who garnered just 300 votes in the election.
The re-election of Stiehm reaffirms her leadership and vision in guiding the WGA West through a period marked by labor unrest and negotiations. Alongside Stiehm, two other officers have been reelected: Michele Mulroney as Vice President and Betsy Thomas as Secretary-Treasurer. Furthermore, five incumbent board members retained their positions, and three new members have been elected to the board.
Meredith Stiehm, known for her role as the showrunner of “Cold Case” on CBS and “The Bridge” on FX, has been a prominent advocate for the rights of writers and played a pivotal role in the union’s fight against agency packaging from 2019 to 2021. During this time, she alleged that her former agency, CAA, collected substantial fees for packaging “Cold Case,” almost matching her earnings from writing the show.
Since the strike commenced on May 2, Stiehm has steadfastly described herself as a “wartime president” and expressed optimism about the union’s path to success. In a July candidate statement, she remarked, “It’s been a long hot summer, but I see a resolution. I know we are on the right path, and it leads to a stronger place. And we are succeeding.”
Notably, Stiehm’s recent accomplishment includes successfully lobbying the California Legislature to approve a bill that would grant unemployment benefits to striking workers, with the law slated to take effect on January 1, pending the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom.
The electoral process saw a candidates’ forum conducted via Zoom last month, though participation was relatively low, with approximately 200 attendees at its peak.
Rich Talarico, a writer on “Key & Peele,” had contested the election, emphasizing the need for the guild to take a more proactive stance against the release of “promotional” material online. Talarico noted the challenges in conveying his message during the strike and mentioned that some supporters felt it would be unpatriotic to vote against the incumbent.
Jeffrey Thompson, who ran for the position of Secretary-Treasurer, emphasized the unity among candidates in their pursuit of fair contracts for writers. He expressed solidarity and optimism regarding the prospects of reaching a reasonable solution.
The five board members who secured reelection are Adam Conover, Nicole Yorkin, Dailyn Rodriguez, Zoe Marshall, and Dante W. Harper. The three newcomers who join the board are Molly Nussbaum, Scott Alexander, and Rob Forman.
As the strike enters its fifth month, the WGA is set to resume negotiations on Wednesday, following a monthlong hiatus. Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, was also easily reelected earlier this month, further solidifying the leadership landscape in the entertainment industry’s labor unions.