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HomeBlog the LineTom Short speaks out, connects dots

Tom Short speaks out, connects dots


Tom Short, the President of IATSE, has sent an open letter to Patric Verrone, the president of the Writers Guild West.

“Ever since late last year,” the letter begins, “when the WGAw announced withdrawal from its own proposed negotiating date in January 2007, I have warned you and predicted the devastation that would come from your actions. These predictions have now come true.”

Short then goes on to reference an LA Times story, noting that while the industry could be facing a loss of over $1 billion in the shutdown, the WGA’s chief negotiator, David Young “is quoted in the Times as delighted he’s being treated ‘like a rock star’ at rallies and says ‘I just look back at the havoc I’ve wreaked… I’m not going to apologize for that.’ This is hardly the point of view of a responsible labor leader.”

A bit of an understatement really, give the pain that crew people — caught in the crossfire — are already feeling. How is that wordsmiths choose a negotiator who so poorly manages his words?

Short continues, saying “the Times points out that Mr. Young has never negotiated a contract in the motion picture industry. His incompetence and inexperience are causing irreperable damage.”

And this is where Short connects the dots to the Bigger Picture in America today, as the fallout from the havoc-wreakers in the White House, and elsewhere, becomes evident. Short observes that the strike comes “at a time when we can ill afford to ignore the worsening national economy, the unstable international climate, and the crises in health care and the housing market that are affecting many of our working families.”

“When I phone you on Nov. 28, 2006 to ask you to reconsider the timing of negotiations, you refused.” Short concludes it was Young’s intention, all along, that there be a strike.

The letter notes that number of shows that have already been shuttered — over 50 — and conludes that “it’s time to put egos aside and recognize how crucial it is to get everyone back to work, before there is irreversible damage from which the industry can never recover.”

Short to neglects to mention his own IA members, however, who are currently striking against Broadway producers, and who have shuttered the Great White Way. But the stakes for the IA are even higher, here.

And his casting the situation in the larger context of a fragile, imploding world is commendable — even if he leaves out any analysis of the stakes for the multinationals that own the studios — and the “content.”

Still, real people are being hurt, in and out of the IA. And though we are not quite at Thanksgiving, perhaps Denis Leary’s “Merry fuckin’ Christmas” will be the theme du jour in L.A. this holiday season.

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