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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Strike 3

My experience with unions

When I worked at a nuclear weapons facility, I joined a labor union. I did so, not because of shared values though due to the fact that one member of the organization issued a veiled threat regarding my employment.

In so many words, I was cautioned that if I chose not to join “someone” could sabotage my employment by accessing a secured area and making it appear as though I left the security zone vulnerable to entry. For the sake of my family at the time, I enrolled and paid monthly dues.

Thankfully, I didn’t need to call upon the union for an employment dispute. Eventually, I promoted to a position as a salaried member of management and wound up working overtime when hourly employees went on strike.

During the walk-out, the union president crossed the picket line. Speaking with him during one of my many nights spent in a high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, I realized that the us-against-them dichotomy was a ridiculous notion and that labor matters were far more nuanced than I previously understood.

Years later, when working for an organization founded on the mission of service to our nation’s military veterans, I joined a separate labor union. I reasoned that although the federal entity was restricted from ever going on strike, I may one day need union services.

Turns out, my hunch was accurate. When my female supervisor discriminated against me on the basis of sex, the union provided legal support and though my case didn’t prevail, I was grateful for the provided representation.

Writers’ strike

According to one source, “On May 2, 2023, at 12:01 a.m. PDT, the Writers Guild of America (WGA)—representing 11,500 screenwriters—went on strike over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).”

Additionally, another source states, “On July 14, 2023, the American actors’ union SAG–AFTRA went on strike over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). It has coincided with a Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike as part of broader Hollywood labor disputes.”

Contained within my blog are various posts criticizing the products of WGA, AMPTP, and SAG-AFTRA, regarding film and web series content. For now, I will set aside swinging at low-hanging fruit in relation to my displeasure with these entities and the current strike.

Rather, I want to address something I recently heard from one actor apparently advocating SAG-AFTRA’s strike. Particularly, I would like to assess the statement through a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) lens.

Prior to doing so, I will offer that I don’t delight when witnessing the suffering of those who maintain a differing perspective than my own. I truly hope the WGA, SAG-AFTRA, and AMPTP soon reach an agreement that is favorable to all parties.

As well, anything contained herein is not meant to defame any individual or entity. I merely aim to offer an opinion on a matter using my personal outlook, as nothing expressed within this blogpost is intended for malicious reasons.

Unique disqualifier aside, I listened to actor Sean Gunn as he apparently provided a brief statement concerning his perception of the strike. Gunn appears to have stated:

I think that when Bob Iger talks about what a shame it is, he needs to remember that in 1980, CEOs like him made 30 times what the worker…what their lowest worker was making. Now, Bob Iger makes 400 times what his lowest worker is.

In and of itself, setting aside my uncertain accuracy of the proposal, this is not an illogical framing of a dispute. It appears as though Gunn is laying a framework for inequality or compensation disparity.

Still, should, must, and ought-type statements—of which “needs to” is associated—serve as a form of demandingness associated with irrational beliefs. Keep in mind that a statement can be logically sound though irrational nonetheless.

As an example, consider the following construct – If A > B and B > C, then A > C:

Major premise: Expired milk is better than nothing.

Minor premise: Nothing is better than bottled water.

Conclusion: Consequently, expired milk is better than bottled water.

The logic checks out though the proposal is unreasonable. Use of a moralizing statement (i.e., “needs to”) calls into question the validity of a proposal.

To demonstrate this, think about the following construct – Every B is A. Every C is B. Therefore, every C is A:

Major premise: Every good boss is one that needs to remember worker’s wages.

Minor premise: Every compassionate person is a good boss.

Conclusion: Therefore, every compassionate person is one that needs to remember worker’s wages.

Here, the logic checks out though the subjectivity of this claim (“good”) and the irrational demand that people “need to” fulfill a desired service to others is an invalid proposal. Perhaps the boss who doesn’t care about worker’s wages considers him or herself to be “good,” as personal values can clash with the principles other people maintain. That’s strike one.

Gunn appears to have further stated:

And I think that’s a fucking shame, Bob. And maybe you should take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Why is that?” And not only, “Why is that?” “Is it okay?” Is it morally okay? Is it ethically okay that you make that much more than your lowest worker? And if so, why? Why is that okay?

This is where the statement devolves into moral condemnation and an expressed demand for personal reflection. While the actor may consider it shameful for a CEO to make 400 times the amount of the lowest-earning employee, it isn’t as though the CEO must value a similar attitude.

When working with clients, I use shame attacking exercises to effectively inoculate people from the harmful effects of subscribing to shame— a painful experience of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Allegations of shame generally originate from external sources.

For instance, perhaps Iger doesn’t believe receipt of $27 million annually is undeserved or a bad practice. Thus, Gunn presumably uses shaming of the CEO to elicit humiliation, doubtlessly to influence Iger’s behavior.

Bolstering a case for shame, Gunn seemingly invites Iger to “look in the mirror” and ask a number of self-justifying questions which are presumptively meant to cause the CEO to conclude something along the lines of, “It isn’t appropriate to make so much more than my employees.”

However, rigidly forcing personal requirements onto others isn’t rational or even practical. Suppose after a lengthy look in the mirror and following self-analysis Iger concludes, “You know what? I make too little!”

Would Gunn accept the outcome when his condition isn’t met? Likely not. Instead, the actor would probably disturb himself with additional unproductive demands.

When working with clients, I teach the concept of unconditional acceptance so that people can stop placing unhelpful conditions on themselves, others, and life as a whole. As an example, saying that you will accept a CEO only if he shares your values is a recipe for self-disturbance.

Though Gunn may appreciate Iger more if the CEO valued Gunn’s principles, Iger is in no way obligated to do so. That’s strike two.

Gunn appears to have finally stated:

And if your response is that, “That’s just the way business is done now, that’s just the way corporations work now,” well, that sucks and that makes you a shitty person if that’s your answer. So you should come up with a better answer than that.

At this point, Gunn apparently has thought through his proposal and arrived at a likely outcome. Iger feasibly will reject the suggestion and offer some form of reasoning for why that may be.

To this, Gunn ostensibly provides a response to perceived rejection by saying the likely outcome “sucks” and apparently goes on to label Iger a “shitty person.” Concluding his alleged denunciation of the CEO, the actor evidently demands that a “better answer” should be provided—thus shoulding all over Iger.

Consider the following imagined conversation between fictional character John Doe and I:

Me: John, do you think it’s ok to be as greedy as you are?

John: What do you mean? I’m not greedy.

Me: We work at the same company and you make more money than I earn.

John: Deric, I’m the CEO of the company. Do you know what all that entails?

Me: There’s no reasonable excuse for you to hoard such wealth!

John: Hoarding? Look, I think you are way off base here.

Me: Maybe you should take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I even a good person?”

John: I’m not going to do that and I don’t need to justify my earnings to you.

Me: You know, if you don’t see things as I do, you’re just a shitty person!

Even though I’ve used similar rhetoric as Gunn appears to have, I at least allowed John the benefit of responding to my statements. Now, picture me carrying on the conversation with myself—which is what the brief interview with Gunn plausibly represented:

Me: John, do you think it’s ok to be as greedy as you are? We work at the same company and you make more money than I earn. There’s no reasonable excuse for you to hoard such wealth! Maybe you should take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I even a good person?” You know, if you don’t see things as I do, you’re just a shitty person!

Is my condemnation of John rational? No. It’s emotional ranting with needless demands and presupposed outcomes masquerading as a reasonable statement. That’s strike three.


Having been a member of two labor unions, I understand some pros and cons associated with membership. Currently, the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are on strike in an attempt to improve their benefits in association with AMPTP.

Despite my personal issues with members of WGA and SAG-AFTRA, and the products of AMPTP over the past several years, I wish both parties well concerning the current labor dispute. May this time pass quickly for each organization.

In baseball, the term “three strikes” references when a batter receives three strikes (balls that pass through any part of the strike zone in flight) during the player’s time at bat, which leads to an out. “For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out, at the old ball game.”

However, this phrase holds a different meaning in regards to the law, though based on a baseball design, as “three strikes” refers to a criminal sentencing structure in which significantly harsher punishments are imposed on repeated offenders. In this regard, three strikes could mean someone is out for life.

Herein, I’ve used what is allegedly the statement of an actor to a CEO in order to indicate the three-strike structure pertaining to the game of repeated irrational beliefs. Using logic and reason, and drawing upon the REBT method, I hope to have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of emotional appeals when attempting to persuade others of one’s position.

Though we may want people to share our values, it isn’t rational to conclude that they should do so. When we unconditionally accept this truth we can stop striking out and free ourselves from the consequential jail in which our unfavorable beliefs confine us.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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