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IATSE’s Tom Short–Can He Prevent a Writers’ Strike?


Tom Short, leader of IATSE, is profiled today by Richard Verrier in the LA Times. Short leads the union that represents stagehands, cinematographers, grips, and other technical workers, including tape editors. With the treat of a WGA strike floating around, the piece says

…Short’s role has never been more important. A strike could throw thousands of people out of work, upending Los Angeles’ $30-billion entertainment economy.

When the writers on ANTM struck, Stone’s union editors filled in, and Verrier uses this as an example of the union boss’s power. The WGA fought back by filing an unfair labor practices suit against ANTM. Most reality shows still aren’t working under union contracts, (despite the union’s best efforts) so it’s unlikely that this model is going to prevail. Reality is successful as a genre because it’s cheap and union deals are costly. Verrier writes:

Studio bosses are hoping that Short, who is based in New York, will use his influence to avoid a strike and that he will temper the more strident Writers Guild of America.

FBLA thinks it’s a sad day when a strong arm union boss with a penchant for personal violence is a tempering influence on the toothless WGA. The WGA talks a good game, but are their members really willing to risk a strike just to add some reality writers who, despite the guild’s PR bluster, aren’t considered “real writers” by the rest of the membership? Writers are a snooty group–the DGA’s membership includes below the line workers, but a writer is a writer is a writer.

With the elections coming up, we’re betting that Short’s going to be very busy campaigning, and reality TV will chug along, same as it always does.

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