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Writers Strike--A Sour Aftermath

August 14, 1988

Sunday morning August 7, 1988. I, along with hundreds of fellow Writers Guild members convened at the Palladium to ratify the 1988 Basic Agreement and thus end what had been a long and often painful strike. It seemed like a time for healing, unificiation and renewal.

Not so.

I was handed a mimeographed paper with the heading "THE SCAB 21" and the notation "For Your Future Reference." What a surprise. I thought black-listing was over.

On the list were names of WGA members whose sincere disagreement with the Board of Director's agenda had led them to explore alternative solutions. At no point did any of the listed engage in "scab" activities. They did not return to work themselves or hire non-union writers. In fact, at one delicate point in the negotations, and at Brian Walton's request, they cooperated with Walton and the Board, and delayed any independent movement.

There are those who believe the efforts of "The 21" and the growing number of members who began to share their misgivings, in fact, hastened the strike's end.

At the general meeting, the "dissenting" members of the Board who voted against ratification spoke to us to explain their positions. Among them, Renee Taylor voiced outrage and disapointment at the public revelation of the six dissenting voters.

If her complaint is fair, then I expect the rest of the membership deserves similar protection from public recrimination. Apparently not. After Taylor, Allan Manings rose and proceeded to read aloud the names of the "SCAB 21." Under such tawdry leadership the meeting decayed into vitriol and abuse.

The people on that list are sincere members of our creative community, engaged in honorable dissent. That the Board permitted such petty vilification mortified many of us at the meeting.

What should have been a sweet celebration of restored purpose and victory was instead a sour example of small men in a large mob. Writers more than others should cherish independent thought and acts of conscience.


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