Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Strike, Week 3

I got an e-mail this morning from the president of IATSE Local 600, the camera guild of which I am a dues-paying member. This one irritated me as much as the one from Tom Short did during the first days of the strike (Tom Short heads all of IATSE.)

As I may have written before, the below-the-line unions which are part of IATSE get residuals which are applied to fund the unions' pension and health plans. Many of the members of those unions aren't aware of this and I don't think that the leadership has done a particularly good job of getting that information out to the membership. So now I've gotten two e-mail telling members not to honor the WGA strike and basically telling the WGA to get back to the bargaining table because the strike is bad for all of these other people.

Yes, strikes are bad for people, but the willingness to say "NO" to a bad deal is something that benefits everyone. Being part of a union should be about making it easier to say "NO" to a bad deal. It's really hard to say "NO" when you are an individual who knows that someone will undercut you and say yes to that bad deal, thus harming you and their own long-term prospects. I said "NO" a lot when I worked as a freelance photographer. Most of the time, I was lucky enough to get the better deal when I said it. A few times, I got stabbed in the back by other photographers. Their loss, not mine, because they had to work with the kind of clients you always regret accommodating.

I would have a lot more respect for Tom Short and the President of Local 600 if the letters had pointed out that there is a no-strike clause in the contracts, so if you are working you are required to continue to work but, if you aren't working, it is important to show support to the WGA by assisting them on the picket lines because the WGA issues are IATSE member issues.

Instead, the President of Local 600 suggests that Tom Short's pressure is sending the WGA back to the bargaining table. What crap. The WGA didn't leave the bargaining table, AMPTP did. It seems to me that the show of solidarity among WGA members and the members of SAG and other unions which have joined in the strike activities, along with the amazing support of the public, is what is forcing AMPTP back to the bargaining table after they insisted nothing would be done until after the New Year. The Internet has been great at getting the news out and gives the WGA a way to respond to lies and exaggerations which are reported by the news media under the control of the heads of the Big Six.

When the stage hands (an IATSE union) went on strike in New York, the WGA immediately sent a letter of support. Too bad the heads of IATSE didn't take a clue.

My Thanksgiving wish is for a quick resolution of the strike, but not one that requires agreeing to a bad deal.

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