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Stage Hands Criticize Picketing Writers

The union representing stage hands and other technicians has lashed out against the Writers Guild, castigating the strikers for costing techs their jobs and accusing the WGA’s chief negotiator of incompetence and inexperience.

In a Nov. 13 letter to Writers Guild of America, West, Patric Verrone, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees, said he had predicted the devastation that has come from the strike actions in the form of job losses by IATSE members.

IATSE international president Thomas Short said he was irked by the comments of David Young, the WGA’s executive director, in a Los Angeles Times profile. “I just lay back and look at the havoc I’ve wreaked ... I’m not going to apologize for that,” Young told the newspaper.

“That’s hardly the point of view of the responsible labor leader,” Short wrote. Young has never negotiated a motion picture industry contract, and his inexperience is “causing irreparable damage to the industry at a time we can ill afford to ignore the worsening national economy,” Short added. It’ time to put egos aside and get everyone back to work, he concluded.

Verrone, in a written response, noted that IATSE members get health-care contributions from theatrical residuals: "As I'm sure you know, for every four cents writers receive in theatrical residuals, directors receive four cents, actors receive 12 cents, and the members of your union receive 20 cents in contributions to their health fund. To put it simply, our fight should be your fight. We've received support from the Teamsters, the actors, many IATSE members, and unions throughout the world.

"As we've stated clearly, we are willing to negotiate; we have wanted to negotiate; we are here to negotiate. Despite the fact that the AMPTP conceded progress was being made on November 4th, the last day of negotiations, they walked out and have not returned," he continued. "So please help us by doing everything you can to get the AMPTP to come back to the table and settle this strike, which, as you say, is devastating to your members, to our members, and to the entire town."