Stagecraft Employees Leader Criticizes Writers Guild of America

The head of the union representing stagecraft employees is lashing out at the Writers Guild of America once again, calling its leadership “a huge clown car that’s only missing the hats and horns.”

Thomas Short, the president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, has been critical of the Writers Guild of America since the union went on strike five weeks ago. Short has stated his belief that the WGA intended all along to strike, rather than reach a contract agreement before a labor action. The writers' strike has also idled members of IATSE.

Now, the talks between the writers and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have broken down, in part because of a WGA proposal that the AMPTP assign jurisdiction over reality TV and animation writers to WGA. Some of those writers have chosen to join a union already: IATSE. Members of IATSE Local 839, for instance, have been members of that trade union for 50 years, according to Short.

“Even if the AMPTP wanted to give the WGA jurisdiction (over) animation writers they couldn’t. It’s not theirs to give,” he said.

Short said the strike, which has shuttered more than 100 television shows, is devastating to IATSE members. 40,000 of that lost their jobs after production ceased.

“Unless and until the WGA leadership starts behaving responsibly, which is unlikely, not only wages, health insurance coverage and pension benefits will be lost (but) home and businesses will be lost, too,” Short said.