Way back on November 17th, 2007, Thomas Short, International President of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) delivered a damning letter to Patric Verrone, the president of the WGA West.
At the time it was mentioned in passing on a few outlets and the text was scarcely available. But now as the strike grows ever longer and more and more jobs disappear (most definitely not offset by a few talkshows coming back) the letter is finding favor among those preparing their unemployment forms. The letter adorns offices and walls and doors, in lobbies and private spaces. Written boldly across it the letters “Read Me” it demands your attention and then holds it as you get an insight into what others are thinking – and many taking comfort in knowing they’re not alone.
The text itself sets its sights upon WGAw Executive Director David Young and aims to demolish – or at least tarnish. And the quotations out of Young’s mouth, reported by Time Magazine, seem to damn himself. The full body of the text itself, unedited, appears below, though headers, footers, addresses, and other personal, internal information has been removed, leaving the body text unaltered.
Ever since late last year when the WGAw announced withdrawal from its own proposed negotiating date in January 2007, I have warned you and predicted the devastation that would come from your actions. Those predictions have now come true.
As the motion picture and television industry looks at the possible cost of over $1 billion and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, your executive director, David Young is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as delighted he’s being treated “likea rock star” at rallies, and says, “I just lay back and look at the havoc I’ve wreaked… I’m not going to apologize for that.” This is hardly the point of view of a responsible labor leader, someone dedicated t oteh presevation of an industry that has supported the economies of several major cities for decades.
The Times story continues, “Young and his team have spent months preparing for this moment.” Why hasn’t this team spent months preparing to negotiate a contract that would ensure the health and future of the motion picture and television industry?
The Times also points out that Mr. Young has never negotiated a contract in the motion picture industry. His incompetence and inexperience are causing irreparable damage to the industry at a time when we can ill afford to ignore the worsening national economy, the unstalbe international climate, and the crises in health care and the housing makret that are affecting many of our working families.
When I phoned you on Nov. 28, 2006 to ask you to reconsider the timing of negotiations, you refused. It now seems taht you were intending that there be a strike no matter what you were offered, or what conditions the industry faced when your contract expired at the end of October.
Over 50 shows have been shut down. More will come. Thousands are losing their jobs every day. The IATSE alone has over 50,000 members working in motion picture, television and broadcasting and tens of thousands more are losing jobs in related fields.
It’s time to put the egos aside and recognize how crucial it is to get everyone back to work, before there is irreversible damage from which this industry can never recover.
Talking Point: Does seeing the other side of the strike change the way you feel about it?