Committee Standards and Practices

Authority

The Board of Directors is the elected governing body of the Writers Guild membership.

With the exception of those committees which are Constitutionally mandated, committees derive their authority directly from the Board, and are advisory to it.

Committees perform specific functions mandated by the Board. No committee has any authority beyond these limits without approval from the Board of Directors or the Executive Director.

The Board has delegated the oversight of all committee activities to the Executive Director. The Executive Director is responsible for, and has the authority necessary to supervise and correlate the work of every committee for the benefit of the membership.

Return to Index


Committee Advisory Panel (CAP)

1. Mandate

The Committee Advisory Panel (CAP), appointed by the Board of Directors, works with the Executive Director to facilitate maximum effectiveness of the Guild's Committee System. CAP recruits members to committees through special outreach efforts; reviews and revises Committee Standards and Practices; assists committees by reviewing their mission statements, plans and activities; creates new committees; combines committees with complementary or similar functions and dissolves non-functioning committees. CAP also serves to settle disputes arising between individual committees (See K.-1.). CAP is responsible to the Board on all matters.
2. Composition
CAP has eleven members, including four Board members, three at-large Guild members (Board appointed), three committee Chairs (elected by a Caucus of all committee Chairs). One staff member serves as the Committee Coordinator. Members serve two-year terms.
3. The Committee Coordinator
The Committee Coordinator is appointed by the Executive Director. S(he) acts as liaison between CAP and committees, staff, and Guild membership. S(he) is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of committees and member service records. Writers with committee concerns or a general interest in committee service should address them in writing to CAP via the Committee Coordinator.

Return to Index


The Role of Committees

1. Responsibilities

Committees are appointed to make recommendations for appropriate action and, under the direction of CAP, to carry out actions in their area of responsibility in promoting the interests and needs of the membership. It is CAP's responsibility to assess committee recommendations and to authorize appropriate action under the overall mandate of the Board.
2. Procedure for Recommendations
Committee reports and recommendations shall be sent to CAP (with a copy to the Board) in written form. If the committee Chair determines that a report must be presented in person, an appearance before CAP may be arranged through the Committee Coordinator.

CAP will always give consideration to a minority report by an individual member or a group within a committee.

3. Procedure for Projects
CAP asks that committee Chairs, as they are planning any project or event requiring Guild resources, submit two copies of the Master Calendar Event Request Form (see K.-2.) to:

Dept. of Public Affairs
Writers Guild of America, west
7000 West Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Staff Liaisons should be sure the form is filled out accurately and completely, and signed by the Committee Chair. The deadline for submission of the form is the first of each month. Upon receipt, Public Affairs will distribute one of these copies to CAP and the other to WICC (see K.-1.). Committees will be notified when an event has been approved by the WICC Executive Committee, at which time arrangements can be finalized.

If an event does not involve the public, and is for WGA members only, unless the committee is informed by staff within fifteen business days of submitting the Master Calendar Request Form that either CAP or WICC wishes to consider that request at its next meeting, the event will be deemed approved.

Master Calendar Event Request Forms can be obtained from the Dept. of Public Affairs.

4. Committee Self-Rule and Regulation
The work process is a matter of give-and-take; a committee must find its own methods of working productively.

A quorum, consisting of half of the committee's roster plus one, is required for meetings of Board-Appointed committees. Open committees may meet in the absence of a quorum. Regardless of whether a committee is Open or Board-Appointed, however, a quorum is required in order to hold an election of officers (see D. below).

Any member with three consecutive unexcused absences will be asked by the Chair whether or not s(he) intends to remain on the committee. If the member does not intend to serve further on the committee, that member shall be replaced. The staff liaison must promptly notify CAP (via the Committee Coordinator) of this action.

Each committee is responsible for sub-committee assignments, meeting places, agendas, minutes, etc. Guild staff is available for special purposes by arrangement of the Chair with the Executive Director.

It is suggested that committees seeking new members send a representative to Orientations for New WGA Members. For exact dates, please contact the Guild's Membership Department.

5. Formation of New Committees
The formation of new committees must be approved by CAP. New committees must serve a useful function within the parameters of the Constitution of the Guild. Committees may form sub-committees for special purposes, and may involve non-committee members.
6. CAP Bi-annual Review of each Standing Committee
Standing committees must have met the following criteria:

 

  • conducted regular meetings that included a significant number of committee members;
  • filed an annual budget;
  • filed minutes as required;
  • actively pursued its mission statement goals;
  • held an election (required every two years) to name its officers;
  • complied with all requirements for presenting in-house or public events (i.e. chain of command in presenting the proposal, the budget, etc.).

If a committee is not meeting the above criteria, the Chair will be asked to explain the discrepancies to CAP. If reasonable adjustments are necessary (such as having fewer meetings, a need for greater committee outreach to bring in new members to reinvigorate a committee, or a redefining of the committee's goals), CAP can exercise its judgment in allowing such adjustments.

If a committee is willfully disregarding the rules as set forth in the Handbook, CAP shall have the power to call for Chair or member dismissals and/or a reorganization of the committee. (This may require CAP to explore the matter with the Board of Directors before direct action is taken.)

Return to Index


Election of Committee Officers

In February of every odd-numbered year, each committee elects by secret ballot a Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary. The Chair's and Vice-Chair's tenure is limited to two years.

Vice-Chairs do not automatically succeed Chairs upon the completion of the latter's term. New elections are to be held for the Chair and Vice-Chair positions every two years, and for the secretary as needed. A Chair may be reelected for two additional terms. Reelection of a Chair for more than three consecutive terms must be presented to CAP for review and discussion.

An election for committee officers may take place without balloting absentees, provided that a quorum exists at the time of the election. However, if a committee determines that a particular issue or election warrants a telephone poll or other means of obtaining the input of its full constituency, the committee is free to do so, and to alert CAP of any questions in this regard.

Return to Index


Chairperson Responsibilities

1. Parliamentary Procedure

The Chair is expected to have a reasonable knowledge of parliamentary procedure to be applied when the occasion warrants. A ruling of the Chair is final in matters of orderly procedure at all times. A committee meeting should, however, be informal in nature. Chairs should encourage individual discussion leading to a consensus before calling for a vote. The Chair is expected to make an effort to elicit an expression of opinion from every member of a committee on a key issue before voting. The Chair has a right to expect common courtesy from committee members, toward the Chair and toward each other. The first order of business of any committee is to set a target date for accomplishment of its work. At the end of each meeting, the Chair will set the date, time and place for the next meeting. Generally, a Chair may speak on either side of a discussion, but may not vote except to break a tie. In no event will a Chair use his/her office, or permit others to use parliamentary devices, to suppress reasonable debate or dissent.

Committee Chairs may wish to refer to the Working Rules used by the Board.

2. Committee Caucus
In order to encourage and facilitate communication and cooperation among Guild committees, a caucus of all committee Chairs will be held twice per year. One caucus will be a retreat or social event during which committee Chairs and Vice-chairs can share achievements and concerns of the past year and formulate common goals, agendas, and plans. The Caucus will elect three Chairs to represent committees on CAP.

Return to Index


Vice-Chair Responsibilities

The Vice-Chair will:

 

  • Chair committee meetings when the Chair is unavailable;
  • Chair subcommittees as requested;
  • Act as committee coordinator for subcommittees as requested;

A Vice-Chair does not replace the Chair in the discharge of the Chair's duties to CAP.

Return to Index


Secretary Responsibilities

The Secretary will take action minutes of a brief summary nature of each meeting (and forward them monthly to CAP via the Committee Coordinator). In addition, the Secretary will maintain records of attendance, agenda items for follow-up, and sub-committee members assigned to specific tasks as part of the minutes.

Return to Index


Committee Membership

1. Responsibilities

All WGA members are encouraged to participate in the committee system. Some committees, however, are limited to current members in good standing. The Board of Directors may make exceptions at its discretion.

It is the responsibility of the individual committee member to attend meetings, study agenda items, and contribute his or her own ideas to the committee's deliberative process. If a committee member fails to attend three consecutive committee meetings without being excused, s(he) may be dropped from the committee.

2. WGA Member Status and Eligibility for Committee Involvement
Current members in good standing are eligible to serve on all Guild committees. Post-current, Emeritus, and Associate Members may serve on certain Guild committees, as designated by the Board of Directors (see Part III). Persons on Withdrawn status shall not serve on committees. Members placed on 'in arrears' status shall not be entitled to serve on committees.
3. How To Get Involved
Every Guild member in good standing is encouraged to become involved in the management of Guild affairs through committee service.

Members who would like to join a committee should contact the Committee Coordinator at the Guild and request a list of Open committees. Next, they should attend a monthly meeting of a committee of interest to them and indicate their interest to the Chair.

Those who would like to volunteer for service on a Board-Appointed committee may submit a letter of request, including information about their skills and interests, to CAP via the Committee Coordinator. Members who wish to serve on an Open committee, but do not have a particular committee in mind, may follow the same procedure.

Return to Index


Staff Liaison Responsibilities

A Guild staff member will attend each committee meeting, help coordinate committee activities and serve as a resource to the committee. The Chair shall contact the Staff Liaison on a monthly basis to establish a meeting agenda and/or other items of committee importance.

Staff Liaisons are also responsible for notifying the Committee Coordinator in writing of any changes in committee membership or officers as they occur, so that Guild records may be kept current.

It is the Staff Liaison's responsibility to insure that the Master Calendar Event Request Form is accurate and complete, and signed by the Committee Chair prior to submission. (See K.-2).

Return to Index


Committee Budgets

CAP has worked with the Guild's Finance Department to provide committees with their own budgets beginning with fiscal year, 1997. CAP has taken into consideration the differing needs of each committee based upon the projects it envisioned for the coming year.

Each committee's budget has two distinct components, one covering regular business (i.e. monthly meetings) and the other special events or projects.

In the interest of preserving Guild financial resources and staff time, CAP requests that committees hold regular meetings either during Guild office hours (9:30 am - 5:30 pm) or after dinner.

Although budget allocations may have been made for special events and projects based on committees' plans for the year, approval is still required from CAP and/or WICC prior to scheduling such events (see C.-3. above).

The Guild's Administration Department can assist with providing drinks and other necessary resources (e.g. plates, cups, utensils), ordering food, and making arrangements for pickup or delivery. However, committee members and staff liaisons should be available to help set up refreshments prior to the meeting.

Members of the committee should be on hand to assist with any room reconfiguration that might be necessary for an event. Following the event, committees and their liaisons are responsible for general clean-up.

Return to Index


The Image of the Writer

1. Writers Image Campaign Committee

In 1996, The Board of Directors formed the Writers Image Campaign Committee (WICC), whose mission is to exert influence over the various efforts of the Guild toward presenting to the industry and the public at large a common positive image of the writer. Per its initial mandate, WICC will do the following:

 

  • a. Maintain a master calendar of Guild events to advise on and help coordinate efforts and resolve conflicts of scheduling and/or message. Mediate and combine efforts toward a common goal;

     

  • b. Request and hear proposals from all Committees (and the Foundation) contemplating image-sensitive programs or events which will reach the public and/or the industry, and offer counsel on refining and perfecting the message;
  • c. Allocate funding for programs or events which could be enriched by such infusion beyond the established unit budget;
  • d. Recommend the re-thinking, rescheduling, or cancellation of those programs or events which, in WICC's judgment, are deemed to be counter-productive, with reasoning and suggestions;
  • e. Refine and improve the impact of the message by studying and reacting to industry and public events and perceptions, and input from Guild membership;
  • f. In consultation with staff and appropriate committees, help develop and launch new programs directed at target audiences, or in response to specific situations; and
  • g. Listen to proposals from staff and the Communications Steering Group (COMSTEER) and offer its advice about staying 'on message.'

WICC is a Board-appointed committee. It has discrete oversight powers as regards image-sensitive programs and events, subsequent to Board approval. Members of other Committees who may have a dispute or disagreement with the WICC process may use CAP to resolve such.

The WICC Executive Committee consists of a Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary-Treasurer, elected from WICC-at-large and approved by the Board. The Chairs of the various WICC sub-committees will also serve on the Executive Committee. (Approximately 40% of the Executive Committee must be sitting Board members.) The Executive Committee meets at least once a month to hear proposals and provide guidance for on-going efforts. It alone has the authority to allocate WICC funds. The full WICC will meet at least six times a year to oversee and steer the general direction of the campaign and to formulate programs from inside WICC.

2. Master Calendar Form
For any event, panel discussion, etc. to which a committee intends to invite the membership-at-large, industry, media, and/or public, the committee is required to submit two copies of the Master Calendar Event Request Form to the Department of Public Affairs. Master Calendar forms must be signed by the committee chair prior to submission.

The deadline for submission of this form is the first day of each month. One copy will be circulated to CAP and the other to WICC for review. When the event has been approved by the WICC Executive Committee, the Chair of the committee will be contacted and the Staff Liaison may then reserve Guild space and proceed with finalizing arrangements for the event.

Master Calendar Event Request Forms can be obtained through the Department of Public Affairs.

3. Board Policy on Writing Seminars
In July, 1996, the Board of Directors created the following policy with regard to Guild-sponsored writing classes: 1. The WGA does not endorse or promote any approach, method, theory, or system of screenwriting. 2. The WGA does not endorse or promote any individual teacher or school of screenwriting. 3.No Guild committee, department or individual shall take any action which contravenes the foregoing policy. 4. In recognition of the desire of some members of the Guild and public to attend lectures and presentations by teachers of screenwriting, Guild committees and departments may, when appropriate to their mandates, produce programs and events wherein individuals present their views and theories on screenwriting and screenwriting methodology so long as:

a. Such individuals are given a copy of this policy; and

b. Such individuals agree in writing in advance of any publication of the event or program in which they are to appear, that they will not thereafter state orally or by any other means, that they or their approaches to screenwriting are in any way endorsed or approved by the WGA; and

c. All publicity or promotional materials for any such program or event, including the monthly calendar, shall contain the following statement:

1.) The WGA does not endorse or promote any 'approach,' 'method,' 'theory,' or 'system' of screenwriting.

2.) The WGA does not endorse or promote any individual teacher or school of screenwriting.

d. No such speaker shall be paid a fee or honorarium by the Writers Guild, its committees or members, in exchange for leading any screenwriting seminar or seminars.

e. The WGA name or logo may not be used by the individual(s) in any advertising or promotional material related to their program or seminars, i.e., as a client; or implying Guild support of their methods.

Return to Index


Recognition of Service

The Committee Advisory Panel, under authority from the Board of Directors, annually honors those Guild members who have demonstrated outstanding committee service. The WGA Certificate of Service is awarded each year at a ceremony to which Guild Board of Directors and committee members are invited. The discretionary award is based upon a number of criteria, including length of service, number of committees served, and offices held.

Return to Table of Contents