Can unions save the creative class?
Newspapers are dying. Musicians and writers can't get paid. Maybe it's time for creatives to really organize ...
In decline: America’s creative class — artists, writers, musicians, architects, those part of the media, the fine arts, publishing, TV and other fields — faced with an unstable landscape marked by technological shifts, a corporate culture of downsizing, and high unemployment.
So is it time for artists to strap on a hard hat? Maybe unions or artists’ guilds can serve and protect an embattled creative class. With musicians typically operating without record labels, journalists increasingly working as freelancers as newspapers shed staff, and book publishing beginning what looks like a period of compression, unions might take some of the risk and sting out of our current state of creative destruction. ...
If you work in the union biz, you eventually figure out that artists in unionized studios get slammed around just like their counterparts elsewhere. The difference is that some of the slamming you can DO something about. Grievances can get filed. Phone calls can be made. Studio visits can calm things down.
In the time I've been here, TAG has organized studios, filed grievances, and worked to raise awareness about the usefulness and utility of labor unions. We've had non-union artists keep us at arm's length, then call us for help when their non-union studio (that they thought was going to last forever) rolled over and died, taking several weeks of employees' salary and vacation pay with it.
When things like that happen, you never give people the cold shoulder or the straight arm, because you know that you need every ally you can muster, and if you turn somebody away you risk making an enemy. Because it's 2013, and labor unions understand that the wolves are at the gates.