Friday, February 20, 2009

Settled Dust

It is time for someone to say it: The Writers Guild Strike was a preventable disaster. We gained nothing in 100 days of labor action that the Directors Guild did not gain in five days of negotiation. And this is largely due to the fact that the Writers Guild was, and continues to be, dominated by politically-driven captives of a left-wing agenda who care more for their hide-bound notions of labor activism than they do for the welfare of the rank-and-file.

Guild members such as myself lost six months of income because of the strike. This is so because production shut down weeks in advance, and did not return to normal for weeks afterwards. I still have not recovered from that loss of income which, for me as a feature film writer, will never be recouped, since the strike was almost exclusively for the benefit of television writers. I will see virtually no improvement in wages or working conditions as a result of having sacrificed the ability to earn a living for six months. I have, for example, just finished the eighth draft of a screenplay for which, contractually, I am to be paid for two drafts. This means that I have, once again, written draft after draft for free - a fact of life in the industry which the Guild has failed utterly to redress. And this is why I say that the strike was, for feature writers like me at least, an unnecessary, unmitigated disaster.

We are now in the throes of another WGA election, and so far I see no candidate who is willing to commit to the idea of avoiding another strike at the end of the current contract. All I hear is the same tired traditional union-boosting rhetoric that railroaded us into the strike, and netted people like me absolutely nothing. And so, for the first time since I became a WGA member, I probably will not vote.

'Why, then,' some of you will ask, 'do you not run for office?' The answer is simple: I am too busy earning a living to engage in Guild politics, and, more so now than ever, I have to struggle to dig myself out of the hole that an elitist, ideologically driven leadership, many of whom are multi-millionaires, has dropped me in.