Recently, there was something of a scandal that took place on several blogs. Accusations were made that Oprah Winfrey, a major supporter of Barack Obama’s candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President, was an anti-union employer. This was in rather short order, proved untrue, although many people voiced concern that the creative staff of Oprah’s talk show are not members of the Writers Guild of America, as is common for the staffs of most talk shows.
This was of particular concern to me. I am a member of the WGA, but for a longer time and more importantly, I am a member of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Engineers, or IATSE. It has been demonstrated by others that Oprah does employ members of the IATSE, but I called the offices of IATSE Local 2, which represents stagehands in Chicago, and IATSE Local 476, which represents studio mechanics there. Both offices confirmed that Oprah employs members of both unions.
Another major issue regarding the WGA and the strike happened yesterday, as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O’Brian announced that they would resume airing, without writing staffs, this January.
As this is a major issue, for pretty much everyone, since whether or not you are a supporter of unions (and if you read this site, you almost certainly are) you are probably a consumer of television and film. To do this, I must explain some basic things about unions in my industry, film and television.