Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Solidarity: Still a Popular T-Shirt

My Union, CommunicatingI believe organized labor is an important American institution and tradition in need of salvaging and celebrating. The same way I believe sailing should be taught and Tall Ships™ should be preserved and old houses ought to be restored. From the National Labor Relations Act:

Sec. 7. [Sec. 157.] Employees shall have the right to self- organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection...

America pays lip service to labor; since there are plenty of employers that provide health care and decent salaries and other benefits, we can pretend the "workers' revolution" is all done and there's no more need for those union things. Some unions have lost their own way, but not as much or as many as some in the media would have you believe. As a nation, we argue over the definition of torture and can't keep trade partners from suspending civil rights, so what's the point of someone who makes $80K trying to relate to people who get beat up after a ten-hour day because they didn't make enough Patriots' sweatshirts?
It's easy -- maybe even simple -- to be off-handed and smug and clever and cute about a writers' strike. (I hope no signs have spelling errors, because that'll be front-page everywhere.) And "It's not coal miners or farm workers. It's the people who write Saved By The Bell, innit?"
I understand that because I have my decent wage and my prescription drug plan and swell home, car and relationship with the boss, prevailing thought is that I really shouldn't think about those who don't have those things. That is why the Labor Movement happened. Since writers' products appear in my and all other workers' homes, we're connected. I believe that by taking the Writers Guild seriously and supporting the WGA's objectives, I am helping the Garment Workers and Communications Workers and Farm Workers, and anybody else.
I know it's a hard sell because we are a thoughtless bunch, and frivolous. So instead of being glib, I'm just stoppi


1 comment:

karie said...

Many ARE thoughtless and frivolous.

But among us are ALSO those who really DO care about workers' rights...ALL workers. And folks who care about the creative arts, and have an investment in those crafts being taken seriously, and rewarded appropriately, as any other craft or profession is and should be.

I say to the media: Don't waste my time with snide comments and twisted details about how many cents per CD a big artist is making. Tell me about the artist who is making the least, not the ones who are making the most. Tell me about the people who are making nothing.

What we are seeing here is really the corporatization and commoditization of work, art and ideas...of a tv screenplay, a movie, a commercial... a play for the stage, a song, a poem.

It is the same as the commoditization of education through profit driven "privatized K-12 charter schools," and the behavior behind economically stressed colleges and state universities who no longer employ people with tenure, but elect to employ contact laborers/part-time lecturers with no security or benefits. And charge parents for things like buses and music classes and sports. And pressure "sell" greater degrees to students already deep-in-debt.

It is the way of our New World.

If the poet is allowed to be ripped off by the producer, we ALL lose.

The same as if the garment worker (in Fall River, MA, Guatemala or Indonesia) is allowed to be ripped off (or beaten up, or worse) for their WORK or "lack thereof", so WE can get a cheap sweatshirt at the next Patriot's game.
SAVE-SAVE-SAVE.

NO.
Loose. Loose. Loose.
Every. Single. One.
Of us!

THAT.
This.
Is just SAD for us all!