Monday, November 24, 2008

Thoughts on the strike vote #1

There's a line I've heard for the past three days now,

"In these tough economics times, why would SAG even think about striking?"

Before I even answer that, it needs to be reiterated repeatedly, a strike authorization does not necessarily mean there will be a strike! It is a bargaining chip. It is the sole threat that labor unions bring to the bargaining table, and unions don't go for such a vote willy-nilly.

Now, let me put my Ph.D hat on and remind you that during the depths of the Great Depression, one-third of workers in the U.S. were out of work, 5,000 banks had crashed, and over 32,000 businesses had closed.

And in Detroit, over 200,000 auto workers had lost their jobs, sending the city's unemployment rate near 50%.

I guess those with jobs should have felt lucky to be employed at all, even with harsh working conditions, no overtime protection, and six-day work weeks.

After all, they were in "worse economic times" that we are in now.

So, what did they do? They spend a few years battling the Big Three to form the United Auto Workers, improved their working conditions, and helped to create a stable middle class.

In short, those union activists were looking down the road at future conditions, not just a paycheck in their hands that day.

And that's what this possible labor action is about - the future of online media and the ability of working actors to get paid fairly, only - and if - the producers make money.

For those backgrounders who claim, "Yeah, but it doesn't affect me, or the background contract," let me assure you, there is a doomsday scenario for background actors if the authorization vote is denied. I'll be posting about that in the near future.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is a SAG strike coming?

OK, I've been away for a long time, working on set and trying to make a living - as everyone else in this town - in the wake of the 100-day WGA strike. Now, it looks like SAG peeps like myself could possibly face a strike. In the wee hours of yesterday, federally-mediated talks between the AMPTP and SAG broke down, and a strike authorization vote will be sent to the SAG general membership.

I've come out of long-term hiatus to make a series of postings about the issues, specifically how a vote for or against a possible strike authorization will affect background actors. I've been talking to lots of fellow BGers on set, and found lots of confusing opinions, and blatantly wrong and/or misinformed ones.

Keep in touch, and I'll be posting again soon.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Going, Going, Gone...

I've been nagged by the very few readers of this blog as to the complete lack of postings over the past many months.

Well, I've got more than enough reasons.

One: I'm just not a compulsive blogger and don't feel the urge to update all the time. Even when online, I just don't spend much time surfing around.

Two: I have no Internet access in my building, and have to drive several blocks to get a signal.

Three: Prior to the writer's strike, I was working often and regularly in that last spurt of employment before the ax fell on everyone in the industry.

Four: While this was going on, I also had a hefty writing assignment for an out-of-state university that took up a lot of free time.

But finally, and foremost, I spent the last 7+ months watching my stepmother die of ovarian cancer and dealing with that anguish with my immediate family. My father is elderly and needs a lot of support, so what free time I do have to myself, I try to keep for myself and not the blog.

So, I've decided that my heart really isn't in this blog, and therefore am giving forewarning to you all that I shall probably shut it down in the next few weeks.

My thanks again to those you who have taken the time to read it over the past few years.