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Do Strikes Work?

David McNew. Getty Images.

Honest question: do labor strikes work? 

I walked past a group of protesting SAG-AFTRA members today. There were a lot of people taking part, and their rallying cries seemed pretty invigorated. I suppose this surprised me, since we're now three months in (from when the WGA started their strike). I've never gone on strike, but I'm fairly certain that if I found myself on strike, I'd make it to day one of the chanting and that would be that. I grow hoarse easily. Let those with more conviction and meatier pipes carry the torch. I'd simply slow them down. Plus I didn't see a snack cart or any sort of refreshment stand. 

It made me wonder though—do strikes work? Will their strike… "work?" Right now, streamers and movie theaters are airing all the stuff that was created before the strike began. We're currently in the middle of a summer blockbuster season thanks to Barbenheimer, Mission Impossible, etc. But sometime soon, we'll face a content wasteland devoid of fresh eps and flicks. What then? Will a furiously consuming public, starved for the next Succession, tip the scales in favor of the workers? Or will we blame them for not filling our Wednesday nights with crazy twists to dissect on podcasts until our mouths bleed? 

Or, and hear me out, will we just… not care? 

I did the tiniest bit of research. Apparently, the major factors that determine whether a labor strike is successful are: to what degree do the government and the public agree with the striking workers? I tried to find what percentage of strikes over the last century have been successful, but as I was googling that, I started watching a BFFs breakdown of Brianna Chickenfry's controversial relationship with country music star Zach Bryan. This led me to his Wikipedia page, where I learned of his service in the United States Navy. You see, Bryan was born in Okinawa as his family was stationed there. Many years earlier, my grandfather served in the Pacific Theater under Admiral Kinkaid. In the years since, I've come around significantly on the Japanese in spite of their attack on Pearl Harbor. Given Bryan's dedication to the Navy—a dedication shared by my late grandfather—as well as my forgiveness of the Japanese, I have decided to endorse the relationship between Brianna and Zach. 

There is surprisingly little information, at least from my quick hunt, on the "success" rate of strikes. I suppose that's because it's hard to define whether a strike is successful, and for whom. What I did find is that strikes are on the rise, at least as compared to a couple years ago. Yet overall, the frequency of labor strikes is far lower now than its peak in the 1970s (

One time, I had to get a new phone from a Verizon store in my neighborhood. There were a ton of big dudes protesting outside the store. I had rolled over on a scooter, and I felt incredibly judged by these men as I unstrapped my helmet, folded my scooter, and walked in to the store. They were highly intimidating. These guys were much bigger than I expected from the employees of a cellular phone company. It felt as though the real employees of Verizon had hired a group of construction workers and fishermen to strike for them, like crisis actors. They were extremely unhappy with me for using the very store they were protesting. I almost joined their circular march just to get them to like me. I often acquiesce to men when I want them to like me. I have a big thing for men. 

But I needed a phone. And I'm not in their union. So I'm not a scab for going in to that store, right? I don't want to be a scab, riding some bus to work where I get pelted by eggs from the entire town, all because I want to give my boy a proper chance to succeed at his bizarre dream of becoming a ballerina. PS: fuck you still, Maggie Thatcher. 

Historically, it's easy to see how a railroad strike or a steel strike or a sanitation strike might weigh more heavily, more immediately, on the national consciousness. Trash piles up in cities, people can't get to work, we start falling behind on arming the country for a war over Taiwan… these issues demand quicker resolution than, say, getting SNL back on the air. 

I have no idea if the government is going to step in to mediate the SAG/WGA strike. I'd imagine President Biden still watches TV with antennae and has to get up to fuss with them when it rains. As far as whether we, the public, will grow so angry from the lack of new shows and movies that we'll start banging on the doors of studio executives to meet the demands of the actors and writers? I doubt it. There are simply too many other ways to fry your brain these days. 

Like Barstool! Christ, we put out a lot of stuff. Plus we'll never strike. Dave said he'd fire us for thinking about unionizing. Not sure he needed to say that. We all hate each other. 

I'm rooting for a resolution. Life is better when you're buried in a great new show. Here's hoping the two sides find some middle ground in time to get season three of Euphoria out this decade.