The Picket Line

December 07, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 8 COMMENTS

The strike continues and it doesn’t look like it is going to end any time soon. Indeed, one blog reported yesterday that negotiations are actually going backwards! To make matters worse, it looks like several actors are honoring the picket line. I think we might be going without our beloved “Office” for several more weeks. I’m not sure that I can take it.

Some big names, such as Carson Daly, crossed the picket line and went back to work this week. Other big names have begun personally paying their staff’s salaries during the strike. But the reality is that many staffers have lost – and will continue to lose – their paychecks. I’m not talking about the fat cats who can afford to do so. I’m talking about those folks who work for them. At Christmas time. I can’t think of a better lesson for why companies should work hard to remain union-free. And I think its time that we started giving some tips on how they can do so. I’ve asked some experts in the area to chime in and give us some real-life guidance. So stay tuned.

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8 COMMENTS

1 Steve
10:09:19, 07/12/07

Julie,

I agree – not sure if I can take all reruns till next year. I wonder if I can sue NBC if I start experiencing withdrawal symptoms? LOL

Anyway, thanks for doing what you do. I find your blog fascinating.

2 Acsenray
15:10:08, 07/12/07

Ms. Elgar, I have been reading and enjoying your blog for months now, and I have praised it as educational and entertaining. I have defended your fine efforts against idiotic commenters who took the opportunity to malign lawyers.

But I was absolutely blindslided that you would take the opportunity here, to state to an audience that undoubtedly includes those that support the writers’ strike, that the lesson here is that companies should stay union free.

I’m not going to use this comment space to state why I disagree with you on that question. I don’t see the benefit in this kind of pissing match, but I think you’ve made a big mistake in taking this direction with your blog. I’m very sad to say that I won’t be coming back here. Very sad.

3 Grace
16:25:09, 07/12/07

Ms. Elgar:

I agree with the comments by Acsenray. While I understand that you represent employers, not employees, I was very taken aback by the blithe statement that “companies should work hard to remain union-free.”

I am not in a union, but I have previously worked for the federal government, and as a federal employee, I was covered under the bargaining agreement, even though I didn’t belong to the union. Having the union represent my interests did not hurt me, and I don’t believe the union hurt the employer in any way.

For me, it’s hypocritical of you to write a blog that praises the work of writers, and in fact is entirely based upon the work of those writers, then backhand those same writers with a plug for employer union-busting.

Your reading audience is not only employers, and you might want to consider moderating your tone in this regard.

4 Kelly
10:32:35, 09/12/07

I have to agree with Acsenray. I know that your blog has always had the point of view of protecting Dunder-Mifflin (and not the employees therein), but I cannot tell you how disappointed I am with your stance on this.

I was one of those people who thought that unions no longer had a place in society, but this strike has changed my mind. The AMPTP have NOT been negotiating in good faith, and have refused the most ridiculous requests. For a show like the Office, where ad time for online streaming is more expensive than for primetime tv, refusing to give them a decent residual is absurd. And if I had known that not a single writer was paid for those webisodes (and most likely never will) I most definitely wouldn’t have watched. And those other workers who are losing their paychecks? Their health and pension plans are funded by residuals – the same residuals the AMPTP want to take away.

I say this because I hope your stance is out of ignorance of the issues… to blindly stand by the AMPTP right now in my mind simply doesn’t make sense. Feel free to email me if you feel different (waterman.kelly@gmail.com), but I have serious trouble seeing the AMPTP’s side on this one.

I am very sad to be saying that I will never be coming back here too. I have enjoyed your analyses in the past, and I will miss them.

5 ACU Frank
14:31:00, 10/12/07

Julie, Julie, Julie…

When will you learn? By coming out in favor of union-free workplaces (gasp!) you have apparently offended one of the thinner-skinned segments of your profession… union attorneys!

Oh well – if we can’t keep our workplaces union free, maybe we can at least keep the blogosphere that way!
;)

6 Tasha
23:57:11, 10/12/07

I am not a union attorney, but I agree with the comments above that support unions, and I was also quite surprised by the blanket statement that companies should remain union-free. I feel proud to be part of a union, and feel secure knowing that I have an organization where I can voice my grievances and have my concerns heard. A company is going to write policy in its own best interest. My union helps me speak out on behalf of my best interest.

The first unions were responsible for many of the workplace standards that few would consider “privileges” such as the 8-hour workday, overtime pay and workplace safety. While unions have endured an imperfect history, they do not deserve the complete disregard implied by your statement.

I understand your concerns for the other workers affected by this strike. Most of the workers in Hollywood are not paid enough to survive a long-standing strike, and this is unfortunate. However, I think that, if anything, this is all the more reason why this strike should continue until the writers’ concerns are heard. If the writers are successful, perhaps it will pave the way for more change in workers’ favor.

I don’t believe the writers are striking over extravagant requests. It is sad that it has come to this, but this is certainly not the fault of the union. In an era where CEOs make 400 times that of the average worker, while worker wages actually fall behind those of decades past, perhaps we should begin offering advice to companies on how to remain “CEO-free” or “Executive Bonuses-free.” In the meantime, if your colleagues have advice to offer on how to actually pay workers what they’re worth so they don’t have to strike in the first place, I’m all for it.

7 Jim M.
13:29:38, 11/12/07

Interesting to read the comments but more interesting that two readers are placing an eternal boycott (strike?) on your blog. Apparently the idea of an open forum that allows exchanges of ideas, though not always in agreement, was not what they were looking for. I would hope that I could disagree with you, state my position as soundly as possible, then anticipate your reply. But it just baffles me how professional people can be so limited in their thinking and narrow in their positions that they cannot even leave the discussion open for further exchanges. Oh well, I certainly hope your blog survives without these two vital readers. I’m sure your commission will be reduced…..

8 Huh?
16:59:41, 11/12/07

Julie said:
________________________________

But the reality is that many staffers have lost – and will continue to lose – their paychecks. I’m not talking about the fat cats who can afford to do so. I’m talking about those folks who work for them. At Christmas time. I can’t think of a better lesson for why companies should work hard to remain union-free.
__________________________

Surely you meant to say “I can’t think of a better lesson for why companies have to pay their employees fairly.” No, wait, you are a defense attorney — never mind.

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