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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Twelve Strikes and Counting

posted by on November 14 at 13:32 PM

strike (n.)
“concentrated cessation of work by a body of employees,” 1810, from verb meaning “refuse to work to force an employer to meet demands” (1768), from strike (v.). Perhaps from notion of striking or “downing” one’s tools, or from sailors’ practice of striking (lowering) a ship’s sails as a symbol of refusal to go to sea.


The TV writers’ strike in LA: Finally we’ll get British-quality television.

British screenwriters could be the unexpected beneficiaries of the writers’ strike crippling Hollywood as American television and film producers try to beat the stoppage by hiring non-union staff overseas.

The news writers’ strike at CBS: The news will be reruns, too.

The transportation strike in Paris: Good for the city’s bicycle economy.

The Broadway stagehands’ strike in New York: Good for Off-Broadway and smaller theaters.

Also: Strikes in Germany (rail drivers want another 14 an hour), South Africa (construction workers want another $0.74 an hour), India (doctors), Australia (teachers), maybe more in India (lawyers), Ireland (bus drivers) Bulgaria (nurses), and so on.

Also-also: A hunger strike by students at Columbia University who want, among other things, to be able to major in ethnic studies.

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We'd only get British-quality television if the American producers are content to let Brit imports write six-episode seasons, as is the custom in the old country. Can't see it happening. In any case, most of the British TV writers whom I'd want to import are WGA members already.

Posted by Nat | November 14, 2007 2:19 PM

It's funny how strikes can wind up accidentally benefiting the competition -- those who are still willing to work. Is it accurate to slap the "scab" label on those British writers, French bicycle vendors, an off-Broadway shows? They're still working and collecting paychecks, after all, and even getting a revenue-boost.

Posted by mattymatt | November 14, 2007 2:30 PM

Not only that, but the WGA has threatened to blackball any non-Guild writer who accepts an offer to do work under their areas of jurisdiction, which would have the effect of basically killing any future employment for said writers after the strike is eventually settled.

And @2:

Technically, the answer to your question is, "no". While the entities you cite may indeed benefit from the work stoppage, it's not because they're doing the work the strikers would otherwise have done (well, with the exception of the Brit writers, were any of them dumb enough to do so), were they not on the picket lines.

Case in point: the Broadway, off- and off-off-Broadway theatres not affected by the strike all operate under different contractual agreements from the one in dispute, so the stagehand's union doesn't have a beef with them, and in fact, any union employees working there are doing so with the approval of the locals currently striking or honoring the strike elsewhere. So, really, not "scabbing" in the traditional sense at all.

Posted by COMTE | November 14, 2007 2:46 PM

#2: not at all. Part of the power of a strike is that the employer may lose market-share to competitors while his workers are not producing for him. Of course, workers run the risk that the buyers won't return when they do, and some strikers will lose jobs as a result. It's a calculated risk.

Posted by suren~o | November 14, 2007 2:50 PM

The news already on reruns. People die needlessly in Iraq. Bush criticizes Democratic party's partisanship; praises own party's partisanship. Torture is fine, says everybody.

It's like watching Groundhog Day every evening.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | November 14, 2007 3:09 PM

I've given up on watching tv for now, and have resorted to watching the new 3rd season of the Mighty Boosh online at bbc3's website.

Posted by naboo | November 14, 2007 3:21 PM

more money plz.

Posted by Cale | November 14, 2007 3:43 PM

Off-Broadway and off Off-Broadway is nine times outta ten the best theater you can see in New York--great writing, great acting, appreciative audiences. A lot less expensive, too.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | November 14, 2007 3:57 PM

And isn't the great Mike Daisy at Joe's Pub right now? Need me some tickets...

Posted by Boomer in NYC | November 14, 2007 3:57 PM

I thot this was counting up the strikes that Eyman had for unconstitutional initiatives.

Is the Ugly Betty episode tonight new or a rerun?

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 14, 2007 4:59 PM

Montreal too!!!

I can't believe you guys got to Bulgaria without Montreal. Have some respect for your own continent.

Posted by John | November 14, 2007 5:35 PM

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