What is a SCAB?  

No, I'm not talking about the thing on your arm you've been picking at...what did your mother tell you about that? I'm talking about the return of the late night shows like Leno, Daily Show or Colbert. I'm talking about being a member of a union and crossing your own picket line. I'm talking about being a scab.

Years ago Joe Montana crossed the picket line during the NFL strike. It was wrong then and it was wrong now. Want to know why?

During the strike, Boomer Esiason, who had just signed a huge contract, joined the striking players and went so far as to lay down in front of the bus bringing the replacement players to a game. No wonder the other players played a little harder when Boomer was in the game.

Although the Writer's Guild has not come out and declared war on Colbert, Leno or even Degeneress, they have made strong statements like this one:

Other late night shows – The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel Live in Los Angeles, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien here in New York – also are returning Wednesday night, but without their striking writers. Leno, O’Brien and Kimmel are all members of the Guild and have been and continue to be extremely supportive of our strike and their writing staffs. For that we truly are grateful

Nonetheless, they are coming back without writers and without a new Guild contract, forced back on the air by companies that refuse to sit at the table and bargain with us. We cannot let that pass.

It’s a difficult and painful decision, but the Guilds East and West have determined that we will picket outside the studios of these programs, beginning January 2. We know that some believe this to be unfair and will be unhappy, but we are taking into consideration our overall strategy and the needs of all 10,500 of our members currently on strike.

...Our purpose is to continue awareness of our strike and the media conglomerates against which we strike, and to encourage performers, politicians and others to honor our picket line and not appear as guests on these struck programs.

In case you missed it, they're saying here that they understand the host's responsibilities, but that picket lines which had not originally been up at those locations are now up. THEY HAVE SET UP PICKET LINES TO DISCOURAGE PEOPLE FROM GOING TO THIS SHOW, SHOWING UP FROM WORK AND TO DRAW ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT THE MULTI-NATIONAL STUDIOS WILL NOT NEGOTIATE, AT ALL.

Now, the union has not called Stewart, Colbert, Leno or the others scabs, instead they are taking action. They even tried to put a little spin on it with this line:

...Our picket will not be of the hosts themselves but the companies for which their shows are produced...

That's nice to say, it isn't personal. It's about the show. This is true, it is about the show, but it is also about the fact that these union members are crossing the picket line, the line of their own union. And how is this any different than say the SP strike song written by Joe Hill?

Casey Jones-The Union Scab

Joe Hill wrote "Casey Jones" in 1911 as a topical comment on a strike of Southern Pacific railroad workers in California.


The workers on the S.P. line to strike sent out a call;
But Casey Jones the engineer wouldn't strike at all.
His boiler it was leaking and his drivers on the bum,
And his engine and its bearings,they were all out of plumb.

Casey Jones kept his junkpile running,
Casey Jones was working double time.
Casey Jones got a woodenmedal
for being good and faithful on the S.P. Line.

The workers said to Casey,"Won't you help us win this strike?"
But Casey said,"Let me alone. You'd better take a hike!"
Then Casey's wheezy engine ran right off the worn-out track,
And Casey hit the river with an awful crack.

Casey Jones hit the river bottom,
Casey Jones broke his blooming spine.
Casey Jones became an angeleno,
and took a trip to heaven on the S.P. Line.

When Casey Jones got up to heaven-to the Pearly Gate,
He said,"I'm Casey Jones, the guy that pulled the S.P. freight."
"You're just the man,"said Peter. "Our musicians are on strike;
You can get a job a-scabbing any time you like.

"Casey Jones got a job in heaven,
Casey Jones was doing mighty fine.
Casey Jones went a-scabbing on the angels,
Just like he did to wokers on the S.P. Line.

The angels got together and they said it wasn't fair,
For Casey Jones to go around a-scabbing everywhere.
The angels union Local Twenty-Three it sure was there,
And they pronptly fired Casey down the Golden Stair.

Casey Jones went to hell a-flying,
Casey Jones,"the devil said, "oh fine.
Casey Jones,get busy shoveling sulphur;
That's what you get for scabbing on the S.P. Line.

Canada takes a dim look at scabs and has authorized the unions to penalize members who do not strike.

Ottawa (27 Feb. 2006) - The Small Claims Division of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has sided with the Public Service Alliance of Canada in its decision to impose fines on members who crossed picket lines during a 2004 strike against the federal government.

So far the court has ordered four members to pay fines ranging from $117 to more than $1,000. Amounts are calculated on the basis of wages collected while their fellow union members were off the job supporting union negotiators who were attempting to reach a new contract agreement with the government.

...It is the first time in Ontario that the union has gone to court to enforce sanctions against "scabs" - those who enjoy the benefits of union membership but who refuse to support their fellow union workers when they vote to walk off the job.

You see, it doesn't matter what your FUCKING star power is, you're still a scab in the same line that Joe Montana is to this day:

But then, as "The Replacements" forced me to admit, my hero, Joe Montana, never had many qualms about the public perception of the football players union. In the 1982 strike, non-union player Montana didn't support the Players Association, a fact he brushed off (in his 1986 biography, "Audibles: My Life in Football") by saying, "The union leadership of the 49ers were confused and felt they had to take a stand whether they agreed with the national leadership's position or not. Hell, why should I support something I don't believe in?" No reason at all, of course, though it might have served the union well to have someone educate Montana as to why he was a millionaire -- that despite the union's obvious blunders, pro football stars became rich not because of their individual talents but through collective bargaining.

But would even that, I wonder, have stirred Montana to do some thinking, take a stand, exercise some real power of leadership and become a real hero? Perhaps to have shown the kind of leadership in life that he showed on the field? I mean, if the quarterback doesn't lead, who is supposed to? Looking ahead to the approaching labor storm in 1987, Montana wrote, "When the time comes I'll weigh the issues and make a decision on how I feel." So what happened? He joined the union. He held out for a while, laid low, and then, when the ranks started to break, he finked and crossed the picket lines.

The return of Leno, O'Brien, Stewart, Colbert, Maher and others marks a sad commentary on the leadership of each of these stars. Their brothers and sisters in WGA East and West may be unwilling to call them what they are, but I'm not. You're SCABS. Solidarity means not crossing picket lines. It especially means you don't cross your brothers' and sisters' picket lines!


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