WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikers picketing at Radford Studios Center in Studio City will be allowed at the main gates of the property starting Monday after the unions threatened legal action over the dangerous conditions of the only previously available locations.
WGA strike captain Andra Whipple announced the victory Friday to picketers and media outside another gate at the studio.
“We have won a huge victory in the battle of Radford because of the article that came out yesterday,” Whipple said. “Within an hour of that article coming out, the studio suddenly wanted to get on the phone very urgently, and they wanted to let us know, ‘Oh, well, we would love to have you picket on Radford.’ So starting on Monday, this picket line will be moving to Radford Avenue. We will have an observer here because this will turn into a neutral gate, and we’re gonna finally be picketing in the f—ing shade!”
The Hollywood Reporter story Whipple detailed how the private equity firm that owns the studio had seemingly made it unnecessarily dangerous to picket there.
“We are in the middle of an enormous labor action, a kind of war, if you will, although I’m a pacifist. I want to tell you about one of the battles in this experience. You all know it well. You’ve all been toiling out in this heat for 88 days,” Whipple, a writer on the former TruTV series “Adam Ruins Everything,” said. “You’ve all been suffering near heat stroke for 88 days, you’ve all been standing over here on this tiny sidewalk nearly getting hit by cars for 88 days. You’ve all been in this f–king driveway when cars have come through and not stopped and almost hit us, for 88 days.”
When the WGA strike began in May, the owners of the 55-acre lot, Los Angeles-based real estate firm Hackman Capital Partners, marked the main four gates on Radford Avenue as neutral, meaning they must be left clear for tenant access and not become host to union picketing. Those entrances are used mostly by talent and executives, and it also happens to be at the end of a tree-lined street, which makes a difference in the midsummer Los Angeles heat. In the 2007 WGA strike, protesters set up pickets there, when the lot was owned by CBS.
“If you’re thinking about picketing at a studio, you would picket at the main gate of the studio, but when we showed up, the first thing they said to us was ‘Well, we’re neutral,’ so you can picket on the side, you can go over to Colfax,” Whipple told TheWrap. “There’s a legal process involving the neutral gates that’s based on an NLRB decision, and it’s still kind of an evolving law as all of our laws are. So we weren’t able to immediately move forward on it, and so we’ve been picketing out here at Colfax Avenue for 88 days now.”
The picketers are mainly striking Paramount and CBS, but Apple also has a presence at Radford. ViacomCBS sold the lot to Hackman in 2021 for $1.85 billion. Hackman also owns Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Second Line Stages in New Orleans and Raleigh Studios in Hollywood.
“There have been concerns this whole time that we’ve been out here for a couple reasons. Number one, the speed of the cars driving on this road, they drive very fast. There’s no traffic at all, like in terms of stop signs, or stoplights, or even speed bumps or crosswalks,” Whipple added. “We’ve got this really, really thin sidewalk. So on days when we have big crowds, which we don’t have today, but we often do, we have a really dangerous situation where people are walking on this really thin sidewalk and they have fallen off before or we’ve had community members who have not wanted to interfere with the picket line and so they’ve tried to go around and walk in the street.”
Whipple also emphasized the heat factor. She measured the temperature of rocks near the site, and they get to 136 degrees. Even the pavement gets to 116 degrees, and the heat radiating off of both on the picketers poses its own danger.
“After watching some picketers nearly collapse, I just got so frustrated and so angry and so overwhelmed by the injustice and all of our captains were so overwhelmed by the injustice of it that we decided it was time to talk about it, so we made a Twitter thread,” Whipple said. “We posted that and we got a lot of traction and then Gary Baum from The Hollywood Reporter decided he wanted to do a story.”
Baum called the studios for comment, and they said that they had offered to supply picketers with food and water, which was not Whipple’s experience.
“I hope that this shows all of us that while we are still in the middle of a very overwhelming and big and stressful strike, we will f–king win,” Whipple concluded in her speech Friday.