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What about the teachers?

Sandra Tsing Loh

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

KAI RYSSDAL: Sitcoms and late night talk shows have been forced into reruns. Broadway shows have gone dark. But commentator, and striking writer, Sandra Tsing Loh says, consider the teachers.


SANDRA TSING LOH: It's Week three of the Writer's Strike, and we know you're sick of hearing about it. After all, it's not a deaf-mute strike. You've got 10,000-plus writers with free time on their hands, churning out passionate op-eds, wordy blogging, a fair amount of "YouTubery."

"Geez, why don't celebrities visit our picket lines?" a friend of mine groused the other day, snapping off the TV. "Whither John Edwards? Jay Leno? That guy from that show?"

You see, my friend is also a member of a union. Not the Teamsters', set carpenters', or even garment workers' union, which has a certain blue collar poetry, but -- The Teachers Union.

Wendy has been owed $2,000 since March, due to a snafu in Los Angeles Unified's supposedly brilliant new computerized payroll system. It has left thousands paid either too much or too little. Some not paid at all for months, due to the fact that nine-month salaries are spread across 12 months in like 54 different wage class categories, so the W-2s are processed as 1099s as opposed to . . .

That's the problem with labor disputes, try to understand what's going wrong and one gets lost in a mire of technical detail, and rising health insurance deductibles, and what about dental? As opposed to what we writers chant on our picket lines: "Hey, hey, what do we get? Nothing for the Internet!"

And yes, I have been on the picket lines, but I'm not going to bore you with the details. But considering how I got into the Writer's Guild, writing scripts I'm embarrassed about, my striking simply means no further harm will be done.

It makes a telling contrast to public school music teacher Wendy, who waited 11 hours downtown to try to get paid, on her day off. Because she couldn't bear to miss work and let down her kids.

Someone should write a movie about a heroine like that. On spec. Of course.

RYSSDAL: Sandra Tsing Loh lives in Los Angeles.

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