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What "Fi-Core" Really Means

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I read news today of Writers Guild member John Ridley's decision to go Financial-Core to protest the Writers Guild strike. I was angry and dismayed and my original post on the issue was full of that vitriol. I thought an edit was in order so as not to let the message to get lost in a war of words.

First, let me explain what fi-core means. Just because it has the word "financial" in it doesn't mean it has anything to do with financial hardship. It has to do with reducing your Writers Guild membership down to its "financial core," meaning you have absolutely no responsibilities or restrictions except to pay the portion of dues that goes toward basic guild functions (collective bargaining), but not toward anything else like political or charitable contributions.

Fi-Core means that you are a "dues paying non-member." You get all the benefits of membership as long as you work under a WGA contract but you are not restricted in any way by the WGA. It means you don't have to be on strike if you don't want to be. That's right, you can go back to work, you can cross the picket line, you can cash your checks, and you get all the benefits that may come from the strike without having sacrificed a thing.

Let me say that again... without having sacrificed a thing.

Where's the rub? You can't take part in any of the guild's political processes. You can't vote, you can't sit on the board, you have no say in the future of the guild at all. And it's permanent, a lifetime decision. You can't go back. It's like moving to Switzerland because you don't agree with a U.S. policy... even though policies change and you'll never be allowed to move back.

But for someone who goes fi-core, those things don't matter anymore. What matters is your paycheck (and unfortunately in some cases, a level of smugness). Now, I understand financial hardship. If people are starving or have a family to feed, if they have no other recourse, I can't fault them for doing what they have to do. But if you "own your shit," as Ridley brags in one of his HuffPo posts, then the only thing you're doing by going back to work is hurting those you call your friends and colleagues, weakening the very definition of collective bargaining by demonstrating disunity -- not dissent, disunity. Right now, Nick Counter is having his first erection in thirty years over John Ridley's decision.

When union members go Fi-Core they sacrifice nothing while gaining everything that others have suffered for. Are they entitled to do that? Yes. What they are not entitled to do is claim that they are a part of a community of men and women who chose to stand up for something they believe in, at great risk to themselves.