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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

The Writers Guild's Continental Divide

April 06, 2005

In his March 28 Opinion piece, "Writers Guild Members Aren't on the Same Page," Walter Bernstein insinuates that a combination of greed, cowardice and poverty has led the Writers Guild of America, West, to declare "war" on WGA, East. We are not declaring war on anybody.

We are trying to honor, and get them to honor, provisions that are in our constitutions requiring screenwriters who live east of the Mississippi to belong to both guilds and pay 50% of their dues to the WGA, West. Why? Because doing that would supply resources that would help us maintain and improve services we provide members of both guilds.

We understand that our sister union does not believe these constitutional provisions need to be honored. Indeed, every past attempt of ours to resolve these inequities has been greeted with a combination of name-calling, obfuscation and hostility; sadly, Bernstein's piece is another unfortunate example of this. How does WGA, West propose to resolve these differences? Through mediation and, failing that, arbitration -- both of which are, by definition, alternatives to fighting.

WGA, East President Herb Sargent was quoted in the trades as saying that "we are sincerely committed to resolving this issue, and we are approaching mediation in good faith." We take him at his word and look forward to sitting down with our sister guild in the same spirit, and as soon as possible.

Daniel Petrie Jr.

Writers Guild

of America, West

Los Angeles

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