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WGA chief negotiator David Young replaced due to illness ahead of key talks with studios


David Young, the veteran chief negotiator for the Writers Guild of America West, has been placed on medical leave just weeks before critical talks with Hollywood studios begin.

The union said in a statement to members Tuesday afternoon that Young would be replaced by assistant director Ellen Stutzman, who would serve as chief negotiator for the upcoming round of negotiations, according to an email viewed by the Times.

“Ellen has earned the trust and full support of the WGAW Board, WGAE Council and WGA Negotiating Committee,” the union said. “She will lead a staff with decades of experience negotiating and enforcing the MBA, as well as organizing and mobilizing members to support the Guilds’ contracting campaigns.”

A WGA spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

The surprise announcement comes at an important time for the WGA, whose leadership this week asked members to vote on a set of negotiating goals that will guide negotiations beginning March 20.

Studios and producers are preparing for a possible strike over writers’ compensation in the age of streaming. Many have sped up productions in an effort to finish writing before the union’s current three-year contract expires May 1.

Young – who led the union during the 2007-2008 strike that lasted 100 days – is known as a tough negotiator who is widely respected by the union’s members. It is unclear what effect his absence will have on upcoming negotiations with studios.

“We know we speak for all WGAW and WGAE memberships in wishing David a full recovery,” the union said.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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