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The Writers' Strike

July 09, 1988

As a "working writer," I think the most frustrating aspect of the current writers' strike is that we aren't striking for substantial gains in our contract, but rather to hold on to what we already have.

Unfortunately, Michael Cieply's June 30 article and, indeed, most of the press coverage the strike has received thus far, has failed to acknowledge the climate in which the writers' strike is taking place.

That is, like virtually every other strike that has occurred in America since the infamous air controllers' strike of 1980, this one is a by-product of the "rollback mentality" that has become so popular during the Reagan Enchantment. In such a climate, management simply refuses to grant any gains to labor, while steadfastly attempting to turn back the clock on wages and benefits.

But a demand for rollbacks requires justification. Hence, the producers' claim that the domestic syndication and foreign markets have changed and, therefore, writers should accept reduced residuals. Have these markets really changed? Or are writers merely being asked to accept responsibility for deficits over which they have no control? If the producers' demands aren't simply window dressing for a rollback by any other name, then why can't producers and writers examine the way in which the markets we write for and sell to have changed and, together, like partners in the enterprise, come up with a solution?

I say we could. But what's missing on both sides is a sense of partnership. We forget that we are in the same business; our fates are inextricably tied to one another.

We can end this strike if each side will give up its commitment to "The Battle of Egos" and, instead, demonstrate a commitment to getting our industry back to work.


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