Hollywood has been under siege, I mean, strike since earlier this summer. Both the writers and actors and directors unions have shut down as they try to strongarm the studios into raising their pay.
It’s estimated they’ve already sucked $3 billion out of the economy as a result of their efforts, and for the record, the studios haven’t likely been the hardest hit. Rather it’s all of the individuals and small businesses that support Hollywood productions that are suffering the most. Like local dry cleaners, lighting technicians, caterers, and more.
Luckily for all of these people, cracks are starting to show.
Both Bill Maher and Drew Barrymore recently announced they would be bringing back their popular talk shows, sans writers and before the strikes conclude.
Both pointed out the suffering their other staff members were experiencing as a result of the shutdown and an eagerness to ensure they could still feed their families. But such silly excuses are never good enough for labor unions.
Their announcements were met with the usual screeches of “SCAB!” and backlash from industry insiders who claimed anyone insisting on working during the strike was a turncoat. The outcry was so loud they both backed off their plans.
It’s an important reminder that labor unions are only able to exist by bullying other people, period. While I think it’s a disastrous choice to join a union (and most people agree, as laws allowing them to force people into membership have been overturned and their enrollment is at record lows), I do think in the private sector you have a right to join one—safeguarded by the First Amendment.
What you don’t have a right to do, though, is insist that other people don’t work. No one outside these unions stands to benefit from these strikes. In fact, if they are successful in their demands others will likely see their pay dry up or fewer jobs available as the studios will have to cut costs elsewhere.
And these people know it, but they’re too afraid of their oppressors to speak out. Here’s one stylist demanding conformity even as she admits she’d have to SELL HER HOUSE as a result of the strikes and will also probably make less money as a result in the long run.
The indoctrination runs deep.
They demand that people who are adjacent to their industry stand in solidarity with them—and that’s because unions are only able to secure higher wages for their members by blocking competition and lowering the pay of those outside of them. And those harmed go along with it out of fear of being ostracized by their peers, blocked from jobs down the road, or otherwise targeted.
It’s childish, abusive behavior and likely quite indicative of the character of those running these entities. Unions exist to protect bad workers more than they exist to protect good ones (the good ones can command good pay because of the value of their work).
So it’s disappointing to see Barrymore and Maher fold so easily. But their initial instincts do show cracks in the cement the unions used to bury bodies under. And, their efforts do seem to have ignited a fire under the unions, which have reportedly finally returned to the negotiation tables after a months-long standoff.
No one is forcing anyone to be a writer, an actor, or a director. Quite the opposite. These are highly desired jobs most would perform for free just for a shot at a career. And the people with the most talent don’t need a union. Writers like Aaron Sorkin clearly create enough value with the shows they produce to name their price, so too with the actors and directors who’ve found breakthrough success
If the union members don’t want to work for the pay they’re being given, that’s their prerogative, and there are likely millions who’d gladly replace them overnight. But they have no right to force other people out of work while demanding pay that’s far above what they command on the market.