Meredith Stiehm, seeking reelection to a second term as president of the WGA West, told her members today that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’s only option to end the ongoing Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA strikes is “to make a fair deal for writers and actors – one that shares the wealth with the people who create it.” She vowed, however, that once the strike is over, the guild and the studios will return to being “partners” once again.
The WGA strike is now in its 85th day, and the SAG-AFTRA strike is now in its 12th day. Her challenger in the race for president is Rich Talarico, a Peabody Award winner and four-time Emmy-nominated writer and producer who’s perhaps best known for his work on Comedy Central’s Key & Peele.
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In her official candidate’s statement, Stiehm, whose writing and producing credits include Homeland, ER and Cold Case, writes that “We are in quite a moment. As a Guild leader said to me on May 2, 2023: ‘You are now a war time president.’ I do not carry that lightly. A strike is a serious, heavy thing. And at the time of this writing, July 25, it is still going on.”
Stiehm, who was one of the named plaintiffs in the WGA’s lawsuit that reshaped the talent agency business, wrote: “I got here largely because of another war, of sorts – I was one of the leaders of the Agency campaign in 2018. That was a long, arduous battle, and we were told over and over that our goals were ‘impossible.’ But they weren’t. We succeeded, and now are true partners with our agents, just as we will be partners again with the studios, when this strike is done. What I learned from that experience: things are impossible until they’re not.”
“I know this moment can feel impossible sometimes too,” she wrote. “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.” She then listed the reasons why the WGA is succeeding in its ongoing strike.
“We’re succeeding because writers shows up every day – on the picket lines, at the rallies, on line, and for each other. Because the captains and lot coordinators run their operations with cheerful efficiency and grace. Because members are dreaming up new theme pickets, meeting new friends, keeping the faith and encouraging each other daily.
“We’re succeeding because of our Officers and Board of Directors – they’re committed, brave, and going the extra mile at every turn. Because the Negotiating Committee is a murderer’s row of smart, thoughtful leaders who deeply understand, and care about, the dire situation writers are in.
“We’re succeeding because of the incredible staff at the Guild. They run picket lines, rallies and communications with quiet, can-do competence. They organized a march of 4,000 people through the streets of LA and made it look easy. They were born for this work.
“We’re succeeding because of our supernova chief negotiator, Ellen Stutzman, and because of the two members at the helm of this effort – ‘nice’ guys who are secretly hard as nails, co-chairs Chris Keyser and David Goodman.
“And we’re succeeding because we are aligned with the other Hollywood unions. We are friends and allies with the leaders of SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, LIUNA, AFM, DGA, and of course the badass Teamsters. Partnering with our sister unions has been a game changer. These alliances are so powerful, and the solidarity is infectious. If you were at the Shrine on May 3rd, you know. Labor is rising.
“We all feel the strength of that, and so do the companies. They see you from the windows of Netflix in your blue shirts. They know they can’t do the work without you.”
“Now that there are two strikes running,” she wrote, “the only way back for the studios is to make a fair deal for writers, and actors – one that shares the wealth with the people who create it.
“When the strike is over, we will build on our good relationships with our sister unions. We’ll show up for them when they are in need, as they did for us. And we’ll restore our relationship with the companies, and move ahead with the work we all love doing.
“I ran for president two years ago because I believe that ‘impossible’ things are possible. The 2023 MBA will be the next example of that. I believe in shooting high, speaking truth to power, and holding the line when necessary. I am guided by fairness and principle, and if it comes to a stand-off for a righteous cause, I am tireless. Or as my husband says, ‘stubborn as shit.’”
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