IATSE President Blasts WGA Negotiator

TVWeek's James Hibberd: Rated

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Thomas Short, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, whose below-the-line members are losing jobs due to the writers strike, sent a strongly worded letter to WGA President Patric Verrone Tuesday, blasting recent comments by the guild's chief negotiator, David Young.

From the letter: "David Young is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as delighted he's being treated 'like a rock star' at rallies, and says, 'I just lay back and look at the havoc I've wrecked ... I'm not going to apologize for that.' This is hardly the point of view of a responsible labor leader."

Short later writes that Young's "incompetence and inexperience are causing irreparable damage to the industry" and urged the WGA to "put egos aside" and recognize how crucial it is to "get everyone back to work."

The WGA president responded minutes ago with a letter that avoids discussing Young, but notes, "Our fight should be your fight. ... As we've stated clearly, we are willing to negotiate; we have wanted to negotiate; we are here to negotiate."

Young's letter is signed, "Fraternally." Verrone's letter is signed, "In solidarity."

The egomaniacal-sounding Young quote also was noted in the Wall Street Journal, as the WGA counterpart to News Corp. President Peter Chernin's line about Fox benefiting financially from the strike.

But let's add some context to both: Chernin was speaking during an earnings call and was obligated to accurately answer a question about how the strike impacts Fox's bottom line. The L.A. Times story about Young describes his "havoc" quote as "half-joking" and gives the full latter line as: "They [the studios] don't care for the fact that I tried to build as much strength for our side as possible. I'm not going to apologize for that."

The reaction to both are reminders that this strike is too harmful, to too many, for any leader to take anything that might be perceived as a victory lap.
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