Thursday, April 5, 2012


This may not have much to do with you, unless you're a member of either The Screen Actors Guild or The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, but it's a great day from my perspective. I've been a member of both unions for decades and it was their health plans and and strike funds etc. that made it possible for me to survive some years.

I love both unions and what they have helped me provide for my family over the years by protecting me from unfair economic exploitation—as my old friend Hubert Selby Jr. used to quote to me often, from The Bible, "The worker is worthy of his hire." That seems to be an old fashioned idea these days when Republicans have reframed the public discussion so that Eisenhower's predicting that no political party could ever survive by attacking unions now seems naive and even "socialist" etc.

Attempts have been made at merging the two film and recording artists unions over the decades but it was usually a group of Hollywood movie actors who held out to keep SAG free of the TV and radio riffraff. A quaint idea itself, which I am happy to see die. It's also a sign that my fellow members in these unions realize the perilous times we live in for unions and recognize the old adage "there is strength in numbers" as not only true but more necessary to adapt to than ever before.

If we are ever to rekindle "The American Dream" of not just the 1% (or the .01% in most cases) enjoying the benefits of our democracy but the rest of us too, strong unions have to play a major role in making that a reality once again. I'm too tired to recap the history that most of us know anyway, of how before the union movement came to have enough power to influence politics (i.e. pre-FDR) the gap between the rich and poor was what it has once again become today, not just the worst of the advanced democracies, but worse than even some of our Latin American neighbors we used to castigate for their lack of a middle class.

It was unions that made it possible for many working people to be able to afford to own a home and send their kids to college (with usually the wife able to "stay at home" etc.) that created the LEAVE IT TO BEAVER landscape of 1950s USA (at least the "white" majority) that the rightwing Republicans pretend to be so nostalgic for and yet do everything they can to make sure never happens again. Let's hope the SAG-AFTRA merger is just the beginning.


Robert G. Zuckerman said...

in the news today. Seeing more things like this about more hiring and other indicators of an improving economy.

William McPherson said...

About Eisenhower, today's Republicans would call him a socialist or worse in their estimation. For that matter, the sainted Ronnie couldn't get on the ticket in a Republican party today. He wouldn't make it to the primaries.

Lally said...

True Bill, and where will it end if they continue to try and out extreme rightwingnut each other? Rush and Alies and Cheney in ten years being too leftwing? Preemptive war against anyone who isn't a rightwing Christian Republican fundamentalist corporate shill? Oh wait, we've already been there in the primaries!