|Affiliation||AFL-CIO, IAWG, IFJ, UNI|
|Office location||250 Hudson Street,|
New York City
The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) is a labor union representing film and television writers as well as employees of television and radio news.
The Writers Guild of America, East is affiliated with the Writers Guild of America, West. Together the guilds administer the Writers Guild of America Awards. It is an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists, the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds, and the AFL-CIO.
WGAE had its beginnings in 1912, when the Authors' League of America (ALA) was formed by some 350 book and magazine authors, as well as dramatists. In 1921, this group split into two branches of the League: the Dramatists Guild of America for writers of radio and stage drama and the Authors Guild for novelists and nonfiction book and magazine authors.
That same year, the Screen Writers Guild came into existence in Hollywood, California, but was "little more than a social organization", according to the WGAe's website, until the Great Depression of the 1930s and the growth of the organized labor movement impelled it to take a more active role in negotiating and guaranteeing writers' contractual rights and protections.
In 1933, the ALA and SWG joined forces, and two years later, with passage of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, called for an election to represent writers of films in collective bargaining agreements; the first such agreement was signed in 1942. Meanwhile, the Radio Writers Guild was formed in New York and became part of the ALA.
A Television Writers Group within the ALA and a separate group, the Television Writers of America, each began representing writers for the nascent television industry beginning in the late 1940s. In 1951, the ALA reorganized into the Writers' Guild of America East and West, in recognition of the growing complexity of representing members in many different fields of entertainment writing. Writers working in motion pictures, TV and radio would be represented by these two new guilds, while the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild remained as branches of the ALA to represent print-media writers. The WGAW and WGAE have bargained for writers in movies, TV and radio since 1954.
The liberal anti-communist faction of WGAW and WGAE, initially collaborated with the Hollywood movie studio/network heads and the U.S. government when they drove most writers (who originally formed the Screen Writers Guild and the Writers Guild East unions) out of the domestic entertainment industry during the McCarthy Era.
The WGAE became affiliated with the AFL-CIO in 1989, although its sister group WGAW did not join and has not since.
On November 2, 2007, both branches of the guild, East and West, called a strike against all television networks and cable channels over writers' share of revenues from DVD releases, Internet, cell-phone network, and other new-media uses of programs and films written by members. The strike vote followed the expiration of the guild's then-current contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The strike ceased on February 12, 2008.
On April 17, 2019, WGA East and WGA West filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the four dominant Hollywood talent agencies, William Morris Agency, Creative Artists Agency, United Talent Agency and ICM Partners, citing movie packaging fee practices, which the WGA asserts are a violation of state and federal laws. Approximately 95 percent of Guild members voted "in favor of a code of conduct that would cease packaging fees."
During the week following its lawsuit filing; en masse, over 7,000 Guild members fired their talent agents, as "not just drastically out-earning them, but preventing them from receiving better pay." WGA West president David Goodman was then quoted as stating to NPR "that in a period of unprecedented profits and growth of our business ... writers themselves are actually earning less".