The Writers Guild of America announced in a memo on Tuesday that executive director David Young will go on medical leave, with assistant executive director Ellen Stutzman replacing him as chief negotiator in the guild’s upcoming contract talks with Hollywood studios.
“Ellen has earned the confidence and full support of the WGAW Board, WGAE Council, and the WGA Negotiating Committee. She will lead a staff with decades of experience negotiating and enforcing the MBA, and organizing and mobilizing members to support the Guilds’ contract campaigns,” read a statement from WGA leadership. “We know we speak for the entire WGAW and WGAE memberships in wishing David a full recovery.”
Stutzman has served as assistant executive director at the WGA since 2018 and has 17 years of experience at the guild. A graduate of Cornell with a MBA from UCLA, Stutzman began her tenure at WGA as a researcher and later became the director of research and public policy for the guild.
Under Young, Stutzman has held oversight over the Agency, Contracts, Legal, and Research & Public Policy departments, and has played a key role in the last three rounds of bargaining talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers as well as the campaign by the guild to eliminate packaging fees and majority ownership of affiliate production companies from talent agencies.
Young has served as the WGA’s executive director since 2006 and has led every contract talk with the AMPTP since 2007, when the guild’s members went on a 100-day strike. He is known in Hollywood for his aggressive negotiation style that has led to tense moments with studios and agencies, such as when he called the AMPTP “despicable” in a series of terse email exchanges with president Carol Lombardini during the run-up to the last round of contract talks in 2020.
The WGA has released its pattern of demands for membership approval and is still conducting meetings with members to iron out negotiation priorities. The negotiation period between the WGA and AMPTP is set to begin on March 20 ahead of a contract expiration on May 1.