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Writers Guild lives it up as underpaid strikers walk picket line

By CM Chaney · September 22, 2023

In brief…

  • The Writers Guild of America West is under fire for lavish spending while many of its striking members depend on public donations to get by.
  • The union's PAC spent hundreds of thousands on upscale restaurants, five-star hotels, and political donations.
  • The Guild's received more than $1 million in compensation, while its assistant director received more than $500,000.
  • These revelations come as a strike deal is expected following a months-long walkout.
An investigation found the Writers Guild union representing striking Hollywood writers spent lavishly on fine dining, swanky hotels, and liberal politicians.  Amanda Scott/Wikimedia

The Writers Guild of America West, which represents thousands of striking TV and film writers, has spent lavishly on travel, dining, and political donations even as it pleaded for public contributions to support struggling members.

The union spent more than $25,000 at an upscale sushi restaurant known for gold-flaked rolls; nearly $6,000 on a five-star Paris hotel stay; and more than $6,500 on event photos, according to an investigation by The New York Post.

The expenditures were made while the union asked the public to donate to its $1.7 million “hardship fund” for members.

The union has provided only $280,000 in strike loans to members but spent far more - $369,463 - on “political activities and lobbying,” mostly on high-profile Democrats, including Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman and California Rep. Adam Schiff.

In total, the Writers Guild West PAC contributed $107,000 to Democratic campaigns and committees from 2021 to 2023.

Other union spending, according to financial filings reviewed by The Post, include more than $50,000 at an upscale L.A. co-working space used for events, nearly $20,000 at a French bistro in West Hollywood, and more than $17,000 at a boutique Manhattan hotel for a 2022 conference.

The Guild’s executive director, David Young, received more than $1 million in salary last year before going on medical leave in February. The assistant executive director made more than $500,000. Consultants such as “Homeland” producer Carole Kirschner also pulled in nearly $100,000.

The investigation comes amid speculation of an imminent deal to end the months-long strike against major studios including Netflix and Disney. In the meantime, questions will likely be raised regarding the Guild’s spending priorities in the midst of a long, hard strike.