Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is editor at large of The American Prospect. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Hollywood on Strike: Union Leaders Talk

With 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America completing a second week on strike, TAP sat down with Patric Verrone, president of the West Coast branch of the Guild and SAG President Alan Rosenberg.

WGA West President Patric Verrone and SAG president Alan Rosenberg (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
With 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) about to complete a second week on strike, Patric Verrone, president of WGA West (the West Coast branch of the Guild) and Alan Rosenberg, president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), whose contract will be up June 30, took a one-day trip Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to brief key members of the House and Senate on the strike and to tell the Federal Communications Commission of their opposition to new regulations that would allow further media consolidation. While in town, they met with Prospect executive editor Harold Meyerson and writer Kate Sheppard to talk about the strike, new media, and strengthening the bargaining power of Hollywood's working class. The two painted a picture of a newly militant union movement in Hollywood, at least among writers and actors. At stake for the writers is residual pay for their work as it gets repackaged and rebroadcast through new digital technologies, making its way onto DVDs, the internet,...

What's on the Line in the Writers' Strike

The writers' strike is really about whether collective bargaining can withstand the creation of new media.

In its initial stages, the strike of television and screenwriters has generated so much lighthearted copy you could conclude, wrongly, that it's fun for the whole family. On one entertainment news Web site , 3,000 "Battlestar Galactica" cultists, in Los Angeles for their convention, have pledged to join the picket line at Universal Studios on Friday. And on a site for striking writers for David Letterman's show, I read that before talks broke down "both sides briefly agreed that Marie Osmond is fabulous in this season's 'Dancing with the Stars.' " Samuel Gompers, meet Shecky Greene. But even a gag-writers' strike can be serious business, as Leno, Letterman, Stewart and Colbert can attest. In fact, the writers' strike is really about whether collective bargaining can withstand the creation of new media on which entertainment can be seen -- or, more accurately, whether it can withstand the studios' efforts to block writers from bargaining collectively when their work is shown on or...

Why Rush on Trade?

The Democrats have control of Congress, and mixed feelings about trade deals. So why are they rushing to debate new-model trade bills?

The House is set to vote today on a free-trade pact with Peru. What's not clear is why. The Bush administration, of course, supports trade deals with just about anyone, as it has made clear by promoting an accord with Colombia, where murdering a union activist entitles the killer to a get-out-of-jail-free card. But Congress is run by the Democrats now, and some of its leaders have sought to craft a different kind of trade bill -- one that takes workers' rights and the environment almost as seriously as it does the right of global companies and investors to do what they will anywhere they roam. In particular, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel and trade subcommittee Chairman Sander Levin have taken it upon themselves to devise these new-model trade bills. How successful they've been is open to interpretation. "For the first time," Levin wrote in a letter to his Democratic colleagues, "the U.S.-Peru FTA incorporates international labor standards in the trade...

Homeowners on Shaky Ground in California

Foreclosures seem to be powered by their own Santa Ana winds, sweeping the state hugely and abruptly.

How do Californians lose their homes? Let me count the ways. Just over 2,000 homes went up in flames last week in Southern California. And 24,209 California homes were foreclosed on in July, August and September -- an all-time quarterly high, according to DataQuick Information Services of La Jolla. That's a rise of 40 percent over the figure from April, May and June. Indeed, California foreclosures seem to be powered by their own Santa Ana winds, so hugely and abruptly have they swept the state. In Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties, there were 1,960 foreclosures in the third quarter of 2006. In this year's third quarter, there were 13,314. They are particularly pervasive in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, the working-class exurbs of Los Angeles and Orange County, and the fastest-growing counties in the state. With affordable housing in Los Angeles now a fond memory at best, working- and middle-class families have been migrating...

Wall Street Democrats vs. Main Street Democrats

The Democrats have become the party of class conflict.

Never let it be said that there's no difference between the two parties. On matters economic, the Republicans are almost invariably the party of major banks and corporations (though the current backlash against immigration is one of the rare instances in which the party's voting base has triumphed over its financial base). The Democrats, by contrast, are on matters of economics the party of -- well, not labor, as such. Not consumers, as such. The younger masters of the universe who work on Wall Street like as not are liberal on cultural issues and appalled at Republican foreign policy, though they're no fans of regulating capitalism. They give big-time to such Democrats as Barack Obama (who supported legislation moving class-action lawsuits from state to federal courts, a bill intended to reduce the size of jury awards in such lawsuits) and Chuck Schumer (who has opposed a fairer tax rate for hedge fund operators). The Democratic Party is their political home -- just as it is labor's...