Living in LA, its hard not to hear about the writer’s strike. So I started to thinking about the strike. Regular readers know I’m no big fan of business… big businesses have loyalty toward those in the big businesses that make decisions about how the business should act, and to a lesser extent, to (other) owners. Along the way, they may do some good, or do some ill, but the rest of us owe them what they feel they owe the rest of us: nothing. Regular readers may not be surprised to hear that’s my view of big business, but… but its also my opinion of unions.
Consider… a union is intended to put its members on a more equal footing with employers when it comes to bargaining about employment issues. And usually unions do succeed. Which is great for members – their wages and benefits get better, and along the way, it might make it harder for non-members to break into the industry (by raising the costs of hiring new people). Now, I support people’s right to walk out in a collective strike, just as I support a company’s right to shut down operations should it choose.
But I was thinking about our aspiring writer/director/actor neighbor, who has written a few scripts, though he’s never sold any. He’s talking about trying to pitch an idea or two while the strike is on. In other words, he’s talking about becoming a scab.
And when I mulled it over, I realized… he doesn’t owe the union or the production companies anything. None of them have ever done anything for him. And probably none of them ever will – my guess is he is unlikely to ever be in a position to do business with any of them. He makes his living as a photographer… and I don’t see the companies or the union members calling him up and offering to pay him a higher rate.
Demanding that my neighbor not make a pitch strikes me as similar to demanding that he not put up something he makes himself on-line or otherwise tries to sell his work without going through one of the studios.
Anyway, that’s what I got. Your thoughts?