Annual Report 2002 (.pdf)
A Sound Foundation
My Fellow Writers,
The past year was a trying time for our nation, our economy, and, undoubtedly, for many Writers Guild members. Nevertheless, due to perseverance and prudent actions by the Guild's staff and its volunteer/member leadership, I am pleased to report that our union continues to operate on a sound financial basis, even reporting a modest Guild Operations Fund surplus for the 2001-02 Fiscal Year.
During that period, dues and initiation fee revenue held steady from Fiscal Year 2000-01 (increasing ever so slightly in a tight labor market). However, due to reduced interest income and unrealized losses on our long-term investments, the Guild Operations Fund total revenue and investment income fell from the lofty heights of the recent past to just more than $18 million. Anticipating this decline, the staff, led by our stalwart Executive Director John McLean, instituted cost-cutting and oversight measures to reduce Guild operating expenditures (ultimately reducing them by more than 2 percent from FY 2000-01). As a result, the WGAw ended the year on March 31, 2002 with a Guild Operations Fund surplus of $872,093.
The Guild's positive financial position was achieved in tandem with two other noteworthy developments.
First, on May 4, 2001, we reached a new agreement with our signatory employers that included important economic and creative improvements for writers, and we did it without a strike. This agreement set a pattern for bargaining that resulted in similar contract gains for SAG, AFTRA, and DGA members.
Second, on October 10, 2001, we paid off the mortgage on the WGAw headquarters--only seven years after its purchase. This development has the dual advantage of reducing operating expenses and of creating a reliable source of equity (estimated at more than $9 million--more than double the purchase price). The building also became a symbol of our strength and determination during contract negotiations as its image was broadcast on news channels worldwide, making the WGAw a proud and happy homeowner.
The leadership of the Guild is intent on preserving the superior financial strength of our union so that we can meet the challenges that lie ahead of us. We will continue to manage Guild economic resources in a prudent and conservative manner. This includes maintaining and, when possible, expanding our Strike Fund and our Good and Welfare Fund, which, together, currently total more than $10.4 million. We also hold unrestricted cash reserves of almost $6.9 million and an untapped line of credit of $4 million (to be used only when dire circumstances require).
Rest assured, though, that we will continue to apply our resources for the advancement of our writer/member interests whenever and wherever necessary. Our FY 2002-03 budget projects a dramatic increase in spending on organizing, so as to expand our jurisdiction in cable television, animation, nonfiction, and independent film. We are also prepared to spend additional finances on residual collection (at home and abroad), late-payment enforcement, agent and manager governance, creative rights for screenwriters, and technological enhancement of member services. This Guild is committed to its membership (which now numbers more than 10,000 strong) and will devote time, energy, and funds where its members need it the most.
Let me conclude by extending a personal debt of gratitude to several people. First, the members of the Membership Finance Committee, who guide the staff, the Board of Directors, and me with tireless dedication: Elias Davis, Kristin Gore, Adam Rodman, Barry Schkolnick, and John Ziaukas. Next, the WGAw staff who run our financial and member-related operations with discretion and determination: Don Gor (Dues and Finance Director), Corinne Tippin (Membership Administrator), Paul Nawrocki (Assistant Executive Director), and John McLean (Executive Director). Finally, my two predecessors, Michael Mahern and John Wells, whose eight years of outstanding fiscal leadership gave our union the strong financial foundation on which we all can rest.
Patric M. Verrone