Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Chop Busting, Union Style

That's the way one of the Hollywood trade papers described the war of words (and battles over jurisdictions) between the IATSE and the WGA(w).

A long history of bad blood between the Writers Guild of America and the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has boiled over.

In a broadside delivered Tuesday, IATSE president Thomas Short has accused the guild's leadership of incompetence and irrresponsibility for its eight-month delay in contract talks with studios and nets.

In response, WGA West exec director David Young accused Short of caving in to the companies and strikebreaking.

IA union reps have heard Tom Short voice concern about SAG/WGA's upcoming contract negotiations before. Over the past year, he's been warning everyone to urge their members to sock money away and secure the hurricane shutters, since he anticipates Hollywood strikes -- either de facto or actual -- when the guilds' contracts are up. (Actually, he anticipates a train wreck, and he's real unhappy about it, since big chunks of live action will be shut down.)

The current broadsides are emblematic of the fighting over tactics and jurisdictions that have gone on between WGA(w) and the IATSE for several years now. In the past, TAG has been involved as a small sideshow, but the big struggle right now is in reality tv shows. The IA is winning new contracts that cover reality tv, and the WGA(w) wants in, so far without success. The guild has tried to organize tape editors; the IA has taken jobs that were held by reality writers. The skirmishes have been ugly of late, and will probably get uglier.

TAG is lucky that it's mostly out of the line of fire between the WGA(w) and the IATSE. But it's unlucky that it's part of the organized labor landscape where the fighting is going on in the first place. Labor, in this corporatist age, can't afford it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for keeping tabs on this. As a VFX artist who works from project-to-project, I'm interested in seeing where this goes.

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