The successful conclusion of the Writers Guild of America’s strike after arduous contract negotiations is a victory for their membership over Big Business in Hollywood, demonstrating the relevance of unions in today’s technology driven, global economy. The victory demonstrates exactly why the Center for American Progress supports the Employee Free Choice Act to promote union growth.
A central sticking point for the WGA was the ability of writers to earn revenue from the distribution of entertainment content via the Internet and in the multiple media that their writing may appear. This issue is complex and gets at trade and technological challenges for which there are no rules yet.
By mounting a strong resistance to the Studios’ desire to retain revenues from this emerging market, the WGA not only defended the rights of its members but opened the door to reviewing other forms of work that are currently being moved around the world via new workflow software and the Internet. As more and more products are embedded with knowledge and information, union action will ensure that workers get their fair share of the value they contribute to the process.
This will be an ongoing struggle, not least in the entertainment community so integral to the economic growth, success, and identity of Los Angeles and California. We are pleased that after some time, both sides were able to come together and make a deal.
As champions for worker rights, unions are well positioned to act as clearinghouses for understanding the relevant issues and ensuring workers are not forgotten as technological change accelerates globalization.