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Weekend Digest: Momentum Builds for a 'Hot Labor Summer'
Zaslav, 'bad employers' bear the brunt at the Unions Strike Back rally: 'If you want to f*** around, you're going to find out'
Three different union bosses told a roaring crowd Friday evening that we’re in for a “hot labor summer” or a “super hot worker summer,” so that might give you a sense of where we are at this stage of the Writers Guild strike, which is nearing the end of its first month and looking to stretch out into beach season.
Hundreds of unions workers from across Hollywood and other industries rallied at Unions Strike Back, a solidarity event that not only included the WGA but SAG-AFTRA, the Teamsters, SEIU, Unite Here, and a number of other labor organizations.
“Our members have been side by side on the picket lines with members of the Writers Guild and we will be there until that strike is over,” said SAG-AFTRA national exec director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland on stage. “Your fight is our fight. Our fight is your fight. We are all in this together. Every worker has a right to a fair wage, a fair deal from their employers.”
“Giant media companies who own the studios and the streaming platforms report billions of dollars of revenue and they pay their CEOs hundreds of millions of dollars while the cast and the crew struggle to earn a decent living,” he continued. “Corporate greed has put the middle-class lifestyle out of reach for so many.”
He echoed the assertion from California Labor Federation’s Lorena Gonzalez that it would be a “hot labor summer.” (By journalism math — you know, “1, 2, trend” — we had ourselves a theme by the end of the evening.) Watch his whole speech below.
Among others on the podium were WGA West president Meredith Stiehm, AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor president Yvonne Wheeler, Orange County Labor Federation exec director Gloria Alvarado, Unite Here Local 11 co-heads Kurt Petersen and Susan Minato, UTLA pres Cecily Myart-Cruz and California Democratic Party chair Rusty Hicks.
Hicks called out Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav to loud jeers from the crowd, as the high-profile studio exec — partying in Cannes, booed in Boston — remains uncowed by the strike and has emerged as a uniquely villainous face among picketers.
Comcast’s NBCUniversal also took some heat as IATSE Local B-192 pres Nicole Miller spelled out the financial difficulties Universal Studios Hollywood workers go through, even as the amusement park debuts Super Nintendo World and draws in record revenue.
Teamsters Local 399’s Lindsay Dougherty, a veritable labor celeb, addressed the crowd in her now trademark fiery style.
She called out the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, demanding increased wages and declaring that “we’re ready to take a commercial break with them. If we are provoked, we will strike.”
She ended on this note: “For all the bad employers out there — I think the WGA knows what I’m going to say — if you want to fuck around, you’re going to find out.”
Her whole speech is here:
And here are more pictures from the event, which spilled over to L.A. Live afterward. (For a purported “dance party,” very few writers were spotted dancing.)
Today in Strike News
While honking has become one of the most common ways for passersby to show their support for the picketers, it turns out that the act can get you a punishment of “up to 90 days in jail,” as honking is not protected by the First Amendment. (Vulture)
Of the 46 projects currently a part of the California film incentives program, half have submitted “force majeure” requests to delay their start date requirements due to the strike. (Deadline)
Thanks to $2.2 million in donations by the WGA and big names like Adam McKay and Shonda Rhimes, the Entertainment Community Fund has provided financial support to over 400 industry workers affected by the strike. (Deadline)
On Friday, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher prodded members to vote to authorize a strike, saying, “This will give our negotiating team much needed leverage at the bargaining table. You know, acting careers are at stake. We must ensure that our employers don’t continue to devalue the performers who bring productions to life.” (Deadline)
One reason the writers strike has lasted far longer than, say, the teachers strike of a couple months back: the impacts primarily get felt cumulatively, not immediately. (Desert Sun)
Culture Machine, Dear White People creator Justin Simien’s production company, was one of many such ventures to see its overall deals suspended. Simien’s ensuing course of action: a GoFundMe, which has already raised over $48,000, to assist the company’s employees. (IndieWire)
Picket Sign of the Day
Spotted after the rally…
Additional reporting by Matthew Frank