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The Scrooge Factor: Studios Fire Secretaries, But Not Highly Paid Executives

fox21001200.jpgDo the studios have a union-busting firm advising them on how to cause as much misery and chaos as possible in the wake of the WGA strike?

She made her walk of shame through the Writers Guild of America’s picket lines for three days.

An aspiring writer, she is paid $33,000 a year as an assistant on the Warner Bros. Studios lot hoping one day she can join the guild. Her boss, a member of the union who went on strike last Monday, had asked her to continue working to maintain their office.

While siding with the writers and their grievances, the 29-year-old was relieved that her boss wanted her to stay on the job. With student loans not to mention rent hanging over her head, she desperately needs the money to pay a credit card debt that paid for her modest wedding.

But late last week, to punish the striking writers, the studio suspended her boss’s six-figure “development deal.”

No development deal, no job.

She and 20 other assistants–15 of them female–were let go that day.

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Thousands of other women whose names you will never know–meagerly paid assistants, secretaries, crew members and others working to support the big Hollywood players–are the first wave of collateral damage in the Writers Guild of America strike that began Nov. 5 against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

While the numbers of people recently fired is hard to ascertain, the strike has left these women–along with male colleagues who also remain obscure–out of work, out of health insurance and out of luck.

How many seven-figure executives will be told to go home without pay once their shows are no longer in production? My guess would be…where’s my pencil, add the six, carry the one…zero.

There’s absolutely no reason for companies with huge assets like the studios to break faith with people who have done nothing and engage in this highly selective, petty form of belt-tightening. It reminds one of a certain other temper tantrum-throwing, Scrooge-like executive threatening 150,000 families with unemployment right at the holiday season if he can’t extort all the money he wants from Congress.

Let the War On Christmas begin, eh?

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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