As Hollywood braces for the possibility of yet another work stoppage, this one by the actors' unions (as represented by their universally recognized symbol of a laughing hammer superimposed over a weeping sickle), the fallout from the last bitter labor war to hit our shores continues: In a "Letter from the Presidents" posted to the WGA's web site, Patric Verrone and Michael Winship point the end of a blood-soaked fountain pen at those members who chose to go "financial core," or fi-core as it's known in the hip-hop world, during the strike. (Recently employed by George Clooney in a tussle with the Guild over Leatherheads, it's as far as you can go towards cutting ties with the union while still being permitted to work on WGA projects.)
They write that the fi-coring members "must be held at arm's length by the rest of us and judged accountable for what they are - strikebreakers whose actions placed everything for which we fought so hard at risk," a seething reprobation arrived upon after an all-night drafting session that saw the floor littered in crumpled-up wads of paper containing such rejected sentence fragments as "fi-ggots," "...strongly suggest you trip them in the studio commissaries," and "can suck our balls." The 21 black-listees are linked to on a separate page. A preliminary investigation reveals almost all to be soap writers, with the exception of U-Turn and Three Kings writer John Ridley. As for Michelle Lisanti, we have no reason to believe the former One Life To Live writer is of any relation to Defamer's founder and editor-at-large, or, to be a little more sudsy about it, that he may have been masquerading, Tootsie-style, as a cross-dressing daytime drama writer under our noses all along.
The letter follows:
Letter from the Presidents
Dear Fellow Members of the Writers Guilds East and West:
During our 100-day strike, the extraordinary solidarity you demonstrated on the picket lines and the courage and dedication with which you committed yourselves to our cause were not only an inspiration but also the key to making our actions successful.
In the face of enormous personal and financial hardship on the part of many, you sacrificed in the knowledge that your refusal to work would reap benefits not only for yourselves but countless others in the creative community, now and in the future. Your stalwart resolve paid off.
Yet among the many there were a puny few who chose to do otherwise, who consciously and selfishly decided to place their own narrow interests over the greater good. Extreme exceptions to the rule, perhaps, but this handful of members who went financial core, resigning from the union yet continuing to receive the benefits of a union contract, must be held at arm's length by the rest of us and judged accountable for what they are - strikebreakers whose actions placed everything for which we fought so hard at risk.
While others forfeited paychecks to stand in unity with their fellow Guild members, many who went financial core continued to collect salaries. Without concern for their colleagues, they turned their backs and tossed the burden of collective action onto the rest of us, taking jobs, reducing our leverage and damaging the Guilds for their own advantage.
Even in cases of deep financial distress, there were other options, including generous no-interest loans from our strike funds, which would have sustained them until the end of the strike and beyond. That's what unions are for.
Those who went financial core did not share in the adversity; and should not share in our victory. They cannot vote in our elections, run for Guild office, attend Guild meetings and other events, or participate in the Writers Guild Awards. Further, it has been determined by the National Council of the Guilds West and East, and affirmed by Guild East Council and the Guild West Board, that we send this joint letter with a link to a list on respective websites of those who went financial core during the strike. To view it now and for future reference, you can find it at: subpage_member.aspx?id=2828.
The rest of us are all in this together.
Patric M. Verrone