October 20, 2007
Colleen Doran posts on the Hollywood writers strike.
I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand unions have been injuring US industries for years. I'm very much a right to work kind of guy.
On the other hand incidents like Matawan are NOT propaganda, they really happened. Plane old unions are INHERENTLY corrupt, but for all their inherent corruption they do (in theory) act as an important legal recourse for workers. If organized as guilds rather than straight unions they can be forces for considerable good beyond the narrow interests of the union hall. Additionally, if the Hollywood writers have been hosed to the same extent as some people I've known in comics and animation then I'm certainly sympathetic to their plight.
On the gripping hand.....as noted in the update to Colleen's post there seems to be a wee bit of overreach in the demands of the Writers "Guild". Via her addendum is an excerpt from a longer communication by Warren Ellis:
The strike rules declare that writers may not write animation or â€œnew mediaâ€ content. This is interesting because WGA has no jurisdiction over animation or new media. Further, they state that any non-union person found writing animation or new media during the course of a strike will be barred from ever joining the Guild.
It sounds a bit arrogant to say the least.
My sympathies are shall we say...strained.
First off, at least according to Ellis, they don't seem to have any real jurisdiction over animators or "New Media". Despite the apparent truth of this, being a private entity, it seems they can refuse membership to anyone. If one of their membership requirements is that animators starved while they struck then no animators who worked while they were on strike need be allowed in. They can certainly put a glass ceiling on peoples carrers.
And "new media"? Mmmmmkaaay....
So people getting started online or creating new mediums who don't bow down to the whims of a union they never belonged to (and might not even be aware of the edicts of)...does this mean they can never join? I'm blogging....right now.
Does this mean I can't ever join the WG?
Hell, Miss Doran (who has categorically stated that she will NOT do healthy healing growth on the wound work) is blogging about this...right now...and has advertisements on her site. Is she new media?
The difference between a Union and a Guild (in theory) is that the Guild (in theory) sets up standards and training for its tradespersons to ensure that everyone who is a member is a solid and competent expert at whatever trade they represent. They also collectively bargain just like a union to ensure that their members are treated equitably, but in maintaining standards they expel unqualified or unethical members. Like any human endeavor, they are fallible, but "Guild" carries with it an expectation of both work ethic and competence that union does not. Of course the names of organizations may have little bearing on how they operate. Some organizations called unions (pipefitters for instance)certainly work like a guild. And some organizations with the name "guild" care nothing for the quality of the work their members do and will grow in power and arrogance until they kill their respective geese and create a rust belt of one sort or another.
Which brings us to a fine place in this rant to remind people why so many of the voice actors who dub anime are Canadian. They took work from small marginal companies that couldn't pay union scale, and after a couple of times were shut out from the industry.
LOTS of productions are moving to Canada. The Canadians bend over backwards to bring them in and the expenses are far cheaper because the unions they have aren't nearly as odious.
A lot of writers well versed in the innovative and growth oriented applications of whatever the hell "new media" is might soon be driven there too.
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