East sides with West side

WGAE hopeful lauds cordialness

TV writer and WGA East presidential candidate Michael Winship said that he would work to extend the "rapprochement" with the WGA West that has been a hallmark of current guild leadership.

Winship, a writer on musical variety shows, kids TV, documentaries and telefilms, said outgoing WGAE president Chris Albers is to be applauded for turning around a long-standing difficult relationship with the WGAW.

"One of the great accomplishments of our current president ... has been an effective rapprochement with our esteemed colleagues in the Writers Guild West," Winship wrote in a candidate statement distributed Thursday. "It is an evolving, working relationship and much remains to be done, but to one who in the past has witnessed too many threats of shivs at dawn, the progress has been breathtaking."

Winship also credited Albers' predecessor, Warren Leight, for helping to smooth those relations.

Current WGAE officials, who include exec director Mona Mangan, should not be blamed for a long negotiations stalemate on a new contract for ABC and CBS newswriters, Winship said.

"That our newswriters have gone so long without new contracts is shameful, but frankly, blame too often has been miscast at union leadership and its negotiating committees and not at those who would do us harm, who even seek to destroy the very union itself," he said.

Tom Phillips, a veteran newswriter running against Winship in the race for WGAE president, said in his previously distributed candidate statement that securing a new contract at ABC and CBS represents a top priority (HR 7/12). But Phillips told a reporter it remains to be decided whether the long-serving Mangan should remain in her position once a new president is elected.

Winship said a strike may prove "a painful necessity" eventually.

The WGAE candidate also stated strong support for the negotiating team in Encino that's now negotiating a new contract for film and primetime broadcast scribes.

"Producers' calls for multiyear studies, reevaluations of residuals and the creation of new business models for new technologies are a stalling tactic and little more," Winship said.

As for the prospect of a strike action in the West Coast talks, "you hope for the best and prepare for the worst," he said.