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Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Hollywood writers' right

The ongoing Hollywood writers' strike has put the limelight on the ability of unions to negotiate on behalf of their membership. The latest development in the strike involves the writers' union, the Writers Guild of America, proposal to negotiate directly with studios and bypassing the studios' respresentative; the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The union's strategy would have been anathema twenty-five years ago. Perhaps, after too many loses to count, labor unions have become more resourceful when engaged in negotiations with employers. Too many jobs have vanquished because the strike mindset was one of crash and burn rather than reach an agreement. Those union officials remained union officials in the strikes' aftermath. Those employees became unemployed. If the company didn't go under completely it joined the ranks of offshore, outsourced jobs. Individual and corporate profits will not be lost in the strike. You cannot loose what you do not have so while they may not make any money they can and will survive the writers' strike quite well. They can jump ship at any moment, leave and re-emerge with a new company of their own hiring eager, unemployed writers.

The strike, the first in less than twenty years, has also revealed the extent to which writing, a craft associated with free expression and independence, has allowed itself to be bound to unions, contracts, negotiations and strikes so completely. This holds equally true of writers in other, non-entertainment areas including the press; another American freedom imperiled. Writers' purport to look ahead to secure DVD future residual compensation for themselves. They could review a four point comparison between unions and networks, as well. It's the writers' right. . .if the union permits it.

membership fees

Both require membership fees in order to join the organization. It is safe to say network fees are considerably less. Yes, union membership provides benefits, but many of those benefits are available from non-union employers, as well.

members' compensation

Unions negotiate with employers to establish employee compensation. Network members negotiate their own compensation agreements with their service recipients. Network members determine the growth and expansion of their own residual income generating network.


Unions stand between the restrictive, contractual (job) relationships of employer/employee. Network member relationships (business) are between themselves as independent service providers and their clients; service recipients. Network members are free to conduct business with or without network members.

other interested parties

Unions negotiate to secure member benefits from employers for their employees. Networks are entreprenuerial. Members are in business for themselves, but not by themselves.

Hollywood writers have done no different than countless other workers in America. They have settled for the illusive "security" of the job. However, writers, too, can take their Knowledge, Skills and Experience they have acquired in their field and create their own Independent Enterprise Network. Who might their clients be you ask? The independent film industry for starters. How long would it take before mainstream studios turned to the writing talent of independent films? The Internet, with its various appendages such as YouTube, could accomplish more for the partnership of independent film/writers than any union contract.

Merry Christmas HO! HO! HO! to one and all!

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