Los Angeles and New York (February 15, 2007)--The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) applaud Chairman George Miller and the House Education and Labor Committee for their support of the Employee Free Choice Act (HR-800), which aims to enable workers, including writers and other creative artists, to bargain for improved wages, benefits, and working conditions by giving workers the freedom to choose whether to join a union without employer interference. The WGAW, WGAE, and SAG encourage the full House of Representatives to take up this critical action expeditiously.
By establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to organize, providing mediation and arbitration during negotiations and internal disputes, and allowing employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation, the Employee Free Choice Act mends the current dysfunctional bargaining system and levels the playing field between employers and employees by supplying workers with essential tools to make their own powerful voices heard, without fear of corporate intimidation, harassment, or retribution.The Writers Guilds know first-hand the impact this bipartisan coalition-supported bill could have on American workers within the entertainment industry and beyond: last summer, when a dozen writers on The CW's America's Next Top Model unanimously signed authorization cards and demanded union recognition and a fair WGA union contract that would afford them protections such as fair minimums, health insurance, pension benefits, and credits, the show's producers refused to recognize them as writers or negotiate with the WGA. Because the show would cease production before an NLRB election could be held, they had no real alternative but to go on strike, which ultimately led to their replacement and loss of their jobs. Had Congress's Employee Choice Act been in place, the final outcome would have been much different. Continuing their shared commitment to organizing, the WGAW, WGAE, and SAG believe this is a vivid example of how such an empowering bill could positively affect the lives and livelihoods of writers and actors--and all American workers hoping to collectively bargain with their employers for a better life.