REALITY TV AND UNION-BUSTING. For years now, I've been telling anyone who'll listen that reality television isn't just bad aesthetics -- it's union-busting. Initially, the idea was simply to come up with programming that didn't involve unionized writers because it actually didn't involve writers, thereby allowing the networks to better-immunize themselves against the threat of a strike. More recently, it's reached absurd heights where you have "reality" shows that actually do employ writers, just not unionized ones covered by the collective bargaining agreement. Campus Progress has a good article up about how this is playing out behind the scenes of America's Next Top Model.

Let me also add that while America's entertainment unions don't involve especially large numbers of people and their actions don�t have especially dramatic implications for the American economy as a whole, they do have a certain significance. Specifically, the success of the Writer's Guild of America, the Screen Actor's Guild, and similar unions serves as an important demonstration of the fact that, yes, even independent-minded professionals can gain a lot from a strong union. Can, that is, unless the reality television goons get to them.

--Matthew Yglesias

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