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The Writers' Strike

July 09, 1988

As a Writers Guild of America member not now working in television, I am extremely offended by the tone of Michael Cieply's "unbiased" report about the strike ("Deadlock: Writers' Strike Reaches the Crisis Stage," June 30).

I support the strike, but I am not a lemming following Writers Guild chief negotiator Brian Walton off some cliff built of stones of machismo. Cieply described J. Nicholas counter, chief negotiator of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, as "low-key and tenacious," "cool and stern,"--neutral language, yes; then uses words to describe Walton such as "bitterly accused" (when "said" would do) and "flashes of righteous anger."

This is not even-handed reporting. And worse, it misses the point, because 9,000 writers are not on strike to perpetuate a personal feud between two men. We are on strike over an issue.

For me, the issue goes beyond that of foreign and one-hour residuals, which is not to trivialize that issue. But my biggest concern--and here I speak for myself--is that we are not an isolated union. We are a union among other unions, and we live now in a time when all unions are under attack.

President Reagan started his first term by breaking the air traffic controllers' union. Counter has said negotiations are over with the Writers Guild, rhetoric, probably, but still strike-breaking rhetoric.

The Times' coverage of the strike has painted a mostly petty image of the Writers Guild, and this is upsetting because I consider this strike as much as an example for other labor battles as a fight over residuals.

For me, unionism itself is at stake here. I find rare consolation in the fact that our 3-1 vote against the current contract offer has been termed "overwhelming" by most news agencies. It's nice to see at least one word catch fire with the media that at least leans our way.

Besides that, I find The Times coverage of the strike insidiously one-sided. You are reporters, I take it. Keep the editorializing in the back of the Metro section.

NEAL JIMENEZ

Los Angeles

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