Monday, November 19, 2007
WHO IS DAVID YOUNG? WHY DOES BIG MEDIA THINK HE'S THE STUMBLING BLOCK TO A SWIFT COMPROMISE? ARE THEY RIGHT OR JUST AFRAID OF A GUY WITH BALLS?
Here's what the WGA press release issued in 2004 says about David Young: A seasoned union professional with more than 15 years of successful experience directing private-sector organizing campaigns. Young graduated magna cum laude from San Diego University with a BA in economics and has devoted his professional career to the labor movement. He served as assistant director of organization at the Laborers’ California Organizing Fund since 1999, where he successfully signed dozens of new construction industry employers to work agreements. Young also served as director of organizing for the Southern California-Nevada Regional Council of Carpenters, where he planned and supervised winning campaigns covering nearly 1,000 workers.Prior to that, Young was supervisor of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ Southern California Construction Organizing Project, spear-heading a joint organizing project of Teamsters International and Local 952. From 1991 to 1997, Young served as assistant national director of organizing for the Union of Needle Trades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE), where he planned and directed major campaigns resulting in thousands of employees receiving union benefits for the first time. Excerpts from The Hollywood Reporter, Janurary 12, 2007: The Hollywood Reporter: You have said that the WGA would be willing to begin negotiations for a new film and TV contract no earlier than next summer. Can we pin that down to a month? David Young: We would be prepared to go in on that as early as July and have communicated that. We are likely to do better via traditional deadline bargaining. The companies save a lot of money via early negotiations by avoiding an unnecessary inventory buildup -- what's called a speed-up. Most of what's produced during that speed-up period isn't used and amounts to wasted capital. So we would need an appropriate incentive to go in early. THR: Management negotiators already are predicting acrimony in the next round of contract talks and claim the WGA has the most militant leadership currently. How do you feel about being cast in the role of a Hollywood labor-community tough guy? Young: It's our job to represent our members' vital interests, and that's what we intend to do. And if folks want to cast that in another light, that's just done for propaganda purposes. THR: You mentioned a couple of months back that you were in negotiations for your personal employment contract. Have you concluded that process? Young: Yes. THR: Any chance of getting details, which ultimately will be disclosed anyway? Young: You'll have to wait. THR: Back on the subject of film and TV contract talks, what represents a bigger priority -- establishing rich residuals for Internet reuse or improving the formula for DVD residuals? Young: Well, that is a question for the membership to decide, when we ask them to weigh in on our contract demands. I would say anecdotally right now people are more concerned about the future, which tends to put more emphasis on Internet downloads than DVD. But DVD is still a very significant concern. THR: OK, give us your prediction. One year from now, what will people saying about negotiations between the WGA and the production companies? Young: That depends on the companies. If they want to make a fair deal that gives writers a fair share of what they create and respects the right to organize, I'm sure we'll be fine. I've been positively impressed with the people I've met on the management side. My prediction would be that we will have an agreement in hand a year from today. -- -- -- That would be January 12, 2008. Let's hope his prediction comes true. I recently had the opportunity to talk with a network executive at a social event. I can't say who, but he's far up the food chain. He felt Young was a non-writer with a personal agenda. A guy looking for an impressive win to move himself on to his next bigger and better gig. Basically that our chief negotiator was more interested in his own career than securing a fair deal for writers. I'll be honest, I had no idea who Young was until recently (I admitted my union ignorance in the previous post). The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I realized the guy controlling our negotiations was not a writer, but a professional labor troubleshooter. I know he's just the mouthpiece and that the board and the members make the decisions, but is it wise to let a guy who's never even opened a final draft file, lead our charge? I honestly don't know. Most people I've spoken to inside the WGA think it's the best idea. Obviously that's why they're spending our hard earned dues on this guy (I would like to know how much we're paying him). They feel Young can focus on the issues without being steeped in our historical baggage. He's obviously made a career of successfully negotiating on labor's behalf. A friend on the negotiating committee commented that the companies are griping about Young because he scares the shit out of them. The way a powerful defense attorney scares a DA. The way a pitbull scares a mailman. The way GW scares rationality... You get the point. I'll say it again. We need to continue to encourage our leaders to approach these resumed talks with a fair and open mind. We want the best deal we can get. We want a deal that protects our future revenue. We want a deal that gets us back to work. None of that will be possible without a civil and humble attitude. We're the hero in this narrative. And the hero never shoots first. The cool hero never shoots at all. The coolest hero doesn't even own a gun.
Posted by Kurt Sutter at 11/19/2007 11:23:00 AM