Saturday, November 17, 2007

Quitters Never Win

For a strike to work, you have to hit the company where it counts –in the bank account.

It’s a simple idea: the workers in an auto factory walk out, production stops, and the auto company has no more cars to sell.

So unions take very seriously the notion of scabbing – someone coming in and taking the job of an union worker, thus keeping production going.

The problem with the WGA strike is that the factory isn’t just making cars. Or in this case, television and movies.

They are also making entertainment in areas where the WGA has no jurisdiction, such as in animation and on-line content.

Which isn’t stopping the Guild from trying to shut down writing in those areas. They initially told all of their members – and all non-members – that they would be punished for doing any animation work.

They pulled this strike rule at the last second, because it really ticked off the union of animation writers – part of IATSE. And the WGA is slowly learning that it isn’t necessarily smart to purposefully poach work from other unions, then turn around and look hurt when they don’t get support from said unions.

But there is no union for people that write for the web, so the Guild is demanding that all writers – union and nonunion – stop writing for the web.

Union members who write for the web will be fined and expulsed; non-union members who write for the web will be banned for life from joining the union.

Even if the writer is contractually obligated to do so.

A WGA member who is refusing to work at WGA jobs is protected from being fired or retaliated against by the studios.

A writer who is breaking a non-union contract for no other reason than because the WGA is bullying him to do so has no protection – legal or otherwise. They are simply breaking a contractual promise, and can be fired or sued.

The WGA will not protect them. The WGA will not stand up for them. Because these are not WGA members or WGA jobs, and they are working in a non-WGA area.

Again, I am not talking about scabbing. This is not a case of someone taking the job of a union writer while they are on strike, this is the case of a non-union writer keeping a commitment made before a union in which they have no say decided to strike.

It is akin to our auto workers telling the janitors that if they don’t quit (it’s not going on strike, it is quitting), then they will hound them for it for the rest of their lives.

And the WGA has made it clear – “we will find you!”

It is one thing to ask for solidarity of others in the biz – many actors, writers, directors and the like have joined the WGA in their cause.

But it is another to force someone to do so without any say in the matter.

And the moral high ground sinks a little lower.

Just my thoughts,


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