After 18 years on the prime of the Writers Guild of America West, govt director David Younger is departing. And the chief negotiator who led the union in its newest spherical of negotiations amid a historic strike — Ellen Stutzman — will take his place.
The WGA West board of administrators introduced the management transition to members on Friday. “Our membership owes David an ideal debt. His organizing expertise and strategic acumen have been important to constructing the Guild into the preventing group it’s at present,” the group said in it message. Younger will stay on the union by the rest of his contract, however Stutzman’s promotion is efficient instantly.
Younger, who joined the union in 2004 as an organizing director and stepped into the chief director function a yr later, led the union by a momentous interval, together with the 100-day strike in 2007-8 that tackled what was then known as “new media” and the guild’s contentious marketing campaign in opposition to company packaging practices. Within the course of, he introduced a brand new stage of boldness to the union, serving to to craft its picture because the Hollywood labor group that’s most certainly to strike to attain its ends. Underneath Younger, the union carved out its first phrases for streaming tasks, created a paid parental depart profit and improved contributions to the union’s profit plans. Younger has been credited moreover with establishing the union’s captain system, the place volunteer members head up inner communications with teams of their friends, as a fixture throughout contract negotiations. The system has lately been adopted by different leisure unions, together with the Administrators Guild of America and IATSE.
Younger mentioned in a press release, “It has been an honor to work with and for writers. I’ve additionally been fortunate to collaborate with the Guild’s workers, which is great.”
Younger has additionally been a colourful and considerably divisive determine on the town, most lately elevating the ire of brokers throughout the union’s multi-year battle over packaging because of alleged conflicts of curiosity. “Younger’s supporters name him a superb tactician whose indifference to Hollywood niceties is an asset,” The Hollywood Reporter‘s Rebecca Keegan wrote in a function on Younger in 2019, amid the battle. “His detractors — together with a quietly pissed off however more and more organized wing of his personal guild — say Younger is a hothead who relishes creating chaos and may’t shut a deal.” Finally, the WGA prevailed in that battle, ending the inclusion of company packaging charges and diminishing the stake that companies might maintain in productions companies within the union’s franchise agreements with main expertise companies.
In a press release, former WGA West president Patric Verrone said, “After we employed David Younger, his directive was to show our Guild right into a union: a forward-looking, organizing union with an knowledgeable, engaged, and activated membership, working for the betterment of writers. Verrone continued, “One in every of my mantras in WGAW management was to ‘Do what David says.’ I consider that each member of our Guild, and almost each employee within the leisure trade, has benefited from doing what David says.”
Stutzman, in the meantime, joined the union in 2006 as a researcher and has risen by the ranks since, turning into analysis & public coverage director and, later, assistant govt director. Stutzman stepped as much as the plate in a giant method in 2023, assuming the function of chief negotiator on the WGA whereas Younger went out on medical depart. She grew to become well-liked among the many union rank and file throughout the subsequent negotiations and strike, which lasted 148 days however yielded a contract that many discovered passable and forward-thinking amid tumult created by streaming platforms and the rise of synthetic intelligence. At a energetic union gathering on the Hollywood Palladium in late September, after the WGA struck a tentative settlement with Hollywood studios, Stutzman acquired the largest applause of the night time, THR reported on the time.
“There’s nothing extra essential – that determines the end result of issues extra – than the suitable individual on the proper time. Ellen was that for us. The precise proper individual at a tenuous second,” mentioned Chris Keyser, the co-chair of the WGA’s 2023 negotiating committee, in a statment. “The primary, possibly most essential, determination all of us made in the middle of our 2023 MBA struggle was to belief Ellen.”
Added negotiating committee co-chair David Goodman, “With out lacking a beat, she grew to become chief and counselor to a membership of 11,500, and carried us by to victory with skillful and skilled strategic pondering, and a readability of thought that saved out the noise of insecurity and timidity.”