Over the past few weeks, the two groups campaigning for control of the council of the Writers Guild of America, East, one of the largest unions representing writers and other media workers, have been making their cases to union members (Disclosure: I am a former dues-paying member of the WGA, East). On one side, there’s the Solidarity Slate, comprising both digital media staffers and TV writers, which calls for “working across all facets of media to organize the entire industry.” The Solidarity Slate’s website reads, in part:
Everyone deserves a union. We strongly support organizing new members in media, nonfiction television and film, podcasts, animation, and other relevant areas of opportunity. Growth is a vital part of our power. […] Our union includes members from different industries. That should be a strength, not a weakness. We are all storytellers. We value the collective mutual support of all parts of our union for one another.
On the other side there’s the Inclusion and Experience Slate, mostly made up of TV writers and Hollywood types including The Wire creator David Simon, which thinks that resources spent to organize digital media shops are a threat to the fabric of the union. The Inclusion and Experience group’s website reads:
The WGAE is in serious danger. Due to aggressive organizing in digital media over the past five years, film and TV writer members are about to become a minority in their own Guild — while still footing the bill.
Or, at least, it did.
At some point between 3:45 p.m. ET yesterday and this morning, according to web archives, the tone and language of the website was overhauled. The above scaremongering section, about “danger” and “footing the bill,” now reads:
The membership of the WGAE is changing rapidly. Due to aggressive organizing in digital media over the past five years, film, TV, and broadcast news writers are about to become a minority in the Guild they founded.
This wasn’t the only rhetoric the folks on the Inclusion and Experience ticket decided to dial back from Great Replacement-style panic to regular old union-busting handwringing. A section laying out their thinking, as of yesterday, read:
This is a serious problem. Our by-laws were designed for a union of film, TV and broadcast news writers — almost all of whom work for the same employers and participate in the same health and pension plans. If digital news writers gain a majority, they will have the power to do all of the following and more:
It now reads:
This has happened without any outreach to members and without a clear plan on how to govern a union with such large numbers of members who work in different industries. Our by-laws were designed for a union of film, TV and broadcast news writers — almost all of whom work for the same employers and participate in the same health and pension plans. Digital news members do not work for those employers or participate in those plans but, if we keep growing at our current pace, their representatives will be deciding numerous issues of vital importance to freelance and broadcast news writers. Those include:
Yesterday, one part read:
They want to keep up the breakneck pace of digital organizing so they can take control of the Guild and ignore our concerns.
But was changed to:
They have ignored on concerns on Council time after time. But if we keep charging ahead without listening to our members, it could lead to disaster.
It was then updated again, and the line about ignored concerns was removed. It now reads:
But if we keep charging ahead without talking to our members, it could lead to the end of our guild.
The changes to the site were made after the Inclusion and Experience’s platform was met with widespread disgust by WGAE members.
Update: Shortly after publication, representatives from the Inclusion and Experience Ticket, Lisa Cullen and Christopher Kyle, sent this statement to Defector: “The website has been revised countless times and will certainly be revised again in the future. Like any campaign, we are constantly honing our message and choosing which points we want to emphasize. I’m sure the Solidarity Slate is doing the same.”