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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

Strike Back!

SAG-Aftra is on strike.

WGA is on strike.

What the real issues behind the creative unions strike?

Well, of course you might say. You need a robust profit. Yes, but there’s other costs to the WAY we do business.

I can give you an example.

There used to a concept in tbe US called runaway production. Quaint, I know. The idea was if you left the US to AVOID union contracts you violated agreements.

Can you imagine?

How dare they.

But here’s a subtle twist.

Producers SUPPORTED this idea. It was almost a point of honor to stay in the US and not trundle down to Cape Town to save bucks.

What were they doing? What were they thinking?

I believe it was to build and support the industry and all the local workers. The local workers after all are the ones paying taxes for roads and bridges. The local workers send their kids to the same schools. They shop at the same grocery store. They are your neighbors.

One thing not fully understood about these strikes, SAG-AFTRA, WGA is they also affect a huge segment of workers NOT in the union. Grips and gaffers. Caterers. Drivers. Airlines. Restaurants. Office workers. The list goes on.

And these union workers are a vital part of our economy.

My career has been marked by a constantly ‘leaking’ of support from my home industries, and massive ‘runaway’ production to cheaper markets.

That’s a double whammy.

Not only does it guy local economies, it exploits labor ti create goids and the sell them at inflated prices back in tbe home market, while avoiding the ‘expense’ of producing them in the home markets.

There’s a false nature to all this.

These are some questions raised:

  • What is the actual cost when you use your resources outside your local market?

  • When your local markets falter and taxes fall, and great wealth gaps are created?

  • When teachers are underpaid and municipal workers are no longer available to do the work?

  • When you create a jet-set elite class, globe trotting to exploitable labor markets, but not creating wealth inside their local economy?

  • All that effort focused beyond the revenue streams that support us?

  • What kind of economy does that create?

We have the answers to those questions. They’re all around us.

The post-Reagan years have been marked by a massive expansion of the global econonmy at the cost of our local economy. Our unions are gutted. The middle class is marginalized. And we’ve seen the rise of myopic, populist politicians exploiting the pain.

These are the real costs and the real issues at the heart of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike. Media has fixated on AI, because it’s all things AI these days, but these actions are about so much more than that.

Silicon Valley and Big Entertainment have had their way us. They’ve attacked sales, and royalty and fees. They’ve driven up prices while reducing labor costs. And now they’ve fixated on copyright. Copyright is the final frontier.

I can make more money if I can gut those pesky copyright laws, the executive thinks as they drive to their fancy new home over crappy roads.

It really is the dream of a revitalized plantation economy. They own your face, your writing, your music, your performance. They take what we give. Unless we don’t. Unless we stop giving.

See you on w picket line.


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