Strike That

Written by Nida Najar on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.

The possible Writers’ Guild of America strike is no secret: it’s been all over print and online media, including mainstream and entertainment news sources. Variety recently ran a story about how a potential walkout would affect late-night TV the most, and offered us a glimpse of the mind states of the producers and TV execs. To the rest of us it seems obvious, having a pretty healthy respect for writers ourselves, that the solution would be to simply pay the people from whom the entire creative pulse of a show runs more money, but according to Variety, “Mind of Mencia” producer Harry Morton has other concerns. If TV shows shut down in the case of a writers’ walkout, the longer the shows are in the dark, the more likely layoffs of people in support positions making little money become.

“You want to be supportive of your guild, but when you have people making $600 a week possibly losing their jobs, you have to think of them, too,” Morton said.

It’s pretty hard to believe that the livelihoods of people making $600 a week are a huge concern for the studios, or really that anything beyond profit is a deciding factor in the whole debacle. In fact, this issue is more about people who are already pretty well-off having the ability to get a little richer. Painting the “underpaid” as the force behind the studios’ firmness on the strike, and making the writers’ demand for a higher cut of Internet and mobile phone the basis of the strike sales seem greedy. Also, how can you cast a stone at the writers for putting poor people out of work money you’re speaking for studios who are responsible for people’s salaries in the first place?

A meeting is taking place currently in LA between the East and West Coast Boards of the WGA, in which the strike recommendation will likely be set for Monday, November 5.

Strike That

Written by Elie Mystal on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

When Karl Marx contemplated the fall of capitalism, he never anticipated large, robust, and effective labor unions. Marx never imagined that rich and powerful capitalist jackboots would allow workers to organize, unionize and halt production with crippling industry-wide walk outs and strikes.

Well, Marx was wrong but be thankful: The ability of low paid, ill-treated workers to collectively organize and fight against their employers strengthens our system, even when it leads to high prices, poor service and an inefficient distribution of human resources across the marketplace.

And so, for the greater good of all labor organizations, I politely ask the Taxi Worker’s Alliance to please go away and never, ever, come back.

A labor strike is fundamentally a bluff, and NYC called the TWA’s bluff months ago. This week’s "taxi strike" was the equivalent of going all in when your opponent has you beat on the board. Most people didn’t even know there was a strike on Monday until they hopped into a (readily available) cab and found out that the contingency price gouging plan was back in effect.

All labor is hurt when one union grossly misuses the power to strike and is utterly ineffective in the process. The striking workers accomplished nothing yesterday, other than ensuring a higher payday for the many drivers that did show up for work.

This is nothing new. Taxi drivers have been losing battles with the City for nearly a decade in this city.  Remember when Giuliani – the Stalin of crushing low income dissent in the marketplace – threatened reprisals if they walked out, and then sent in the police to break them when cabbies did protest in 1998?

Taxi drivers will keep getting stomped on until their labor leaders come up with better strategies than one day strikes that nobody knows or cares about.  The TWA needs to take a lesson from the Broadway stagehands. If they strike, they’ll do it at Christmas and bring the entire industry to a halt. Right now, the TWA is part of the problem for taxi drivers, and their bungling makes it that much harder for other labor organization to fight City Hall.