As the Writers Guild of America strike shakes up the movie and television industry, some are wondering what they'll do without Jay Leno, others are asking why there's no more Heroes in this land, and still others want to know what the famously union-hostile L.A. Times has had to say about all this over the years. The paper began life as a proud defender of the open shop, enduring a deadly bombing by union organizers in 1910; then, under Publisher Otis Chandler, the Times drastically softened its stance beginning in 1960. Today's editorial board has already done some thinking about the issues in the current WGA walkout and will be watching developments. Meanwhile, it's instructive to look back over the history of Times attitudes toward striking miners, ball players, classical musicians and even movie people.

Back on March 8, 1900, the ed board poured hot molten contempt on striking Chicago sheet metal workers:


There was little or no excuse for this strike. The men were receiving good wages, employment was plenty, and all classes of business were prosperous. But of course the walking delegates must have some chance to make a bluff, occasionally, at earning their salaries, otherwise the misguided men who support them in comparative idleness might rebel and deprive them of their easy means of livelihood. Hence the strike, the loss of employment, and the demoralization of business in certain industries.

Later that year, the Times expanded on the same theme. October 18, 1900:


How long will presumably intelligent laboring men in this country of general education and enlightenment continue to permit themselves to be made the tools of designing demagogues, and to run after false gods? […] [T]he workingmen who work continue to permit themselves to be led around and bamboozled by the labor leaders who do not labor. How is it that a class of men who admittedly lead the world in intelligence and skill can permit themselves to be thus hoodwinked, when their personal interests are concerned?

If you think of Teddy Roosevelt as a model for progressive politics, the Times on September 7, 1910 saw something different to admire in the former president:


If the labor unions would discard from leadership the cowardly, murder-inciting, corpse-defacing bullies and their more cowardly yellow editorial backers, who have for months been engaged in futile efforts to bulldoze the Los Angeles employers into an abandonment of the open-shop policy, they would illustrate their tardy wisdom. If they would follow the advice of Roosevelt and discard boycotting of employers, and insulting and slugging non-union men; if they would promptly expel from their ranks the disorderly ruffians who disgrace the cause of honest labor, they would be entitled to the sympathy and support of the community in their endeavor by lawful methods to better their condition.

And as an extraordinarily violent coal strike rocked the Centennial State on June 18, 1914, the ed board engaged in the (now lamentably abandoned) practice of calling for the prosecution of fellow journalists:


Among the few publications that have attempted to make capital out of the Colorado strike by a hysterical and malevolent distortion of facts, Harper's Weekly has been the belled buzzard of the flock. It has lied about the strikers and has lied about the mine operators; it has not sought facts, but has sought to establish the strikers as martyrs and the operators as diabolical slave-drivers. In this deliberate policy of misrepresentation, Norman Hapgood, who designates himself as the editor of Harper's Weekly, and in doing so evinces that he is immune to shame, has been the most assiduous literary liar in the nation; he has vindicated the murders of the strikers by joining in their cry against the mine owners; he has encouraged sedition and written on behalf of anarchy.

The 20th century rolled on, but age could not wither nor custom stale the Times' infinite variety of invective against labor bosses (and the strange habit of complimenting the intelligence of the workers themselves). May 4, 1919:


Seldom has the shortsightedness and utter selfishness of the bosses of the labor unions been more obviously exemplified than in Saturday's harbor strike. Several thousand men were idle and receiving no pay who but two days ago were regularly employed and were receiving higher average wages than were ever before gained by workmen of their crafts in times of peace.

Hours and wages did not enter into the dispute. These thousands of intelligent workmen have permitted themselves to be deluded by paid walking delegates form other sections of the country into a belief that the principle of home rule in settling labor questions is wrong, that they are not capable of conferring themselves with their employers, but must have outside men — who toil not, neither do they spin, and yet receive double pay — to do their conferring for them.

A clue to the Times' attitude toward unions — its genuine belief that open shops made Los Angeles great — can be found in this editorial from December 2, 1923: