In a massive show of solidarity on the second day of the Writers’ strike, Writers Guild of America members were joined by representatives of other Hollywood unions at a rally held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Participants at the event included members of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) the stagehands’ union (IATSE), the Teamsters and more. In all, six other unions sent representatives to the event.
Images from the rally were shared by attendees, one of whom described the strike as “a war for labor itself.”
The strike began when the previous contract between WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers ended on May 1, and the two sides were unable to agree on a new deal. WGA is striking to fight, among other things, what it says is a growing “gig economy” for its members, with industry earnings increasingly concentrated at the top, while creatives are paid less under worse workplace conditions. The problem, they say, is particularly bad at streaming platforms.
The show of solidarity seen on Wednesday has particular importance for Hollywood because of the timing. Both DGA and SAG-AFTRA will see their contracts with AMPTP expire on June 30. DGA will begin negotiations with AMPTP on May 10, while SAG-AFTRA will begin on June 7.
Should the groups join WGA in a strike, it would almost certainly grind Hollywood business to a halt, with ramifications far beyond the entertainment industry or the economy of Los Angeles.
How likely the groups are to strike isn’t knowable at the moment, but it’s worth noting that in April, SAG-AFTRA’s board voted unanimously to support WGA in the contract talks. After that vote, SAG-AFTRA said in a statement, “It is long past time for the studios, streamers, and other employers in the entertainment industry to remove roadblocks to fair and equitable wages and working conditions, and to agree to terms that reflect the unique worth and contribution of creative talent and workers, without whom the industry would not exist.”
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s event featured a keynote by WGA negotiating committee head Chris Keyser, who made waves listing several instances of disrespect paid to WGA members by AMPTP negotiators. Among them, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Keyser said the lead AMPTP negotiator used the term “collaboration” to refer to unpaid rewrites.
“The @WGAWest meeting tonight was off the hook. Leaders from @DirectorsGuild @SAGAftra @Teamsters @IATSE @LIUNA all threw down the gauntlet. We are together against the greed of the studios and streamers,” writer-director-producer Justine Bateman said.
“Wow. That was a fiery #WGA meeting. The AMPTP may not know it yet, but they soon will: WE are serious people,” writer and rally attendee Mike Diaz said.
“This is HISTORIC,” writer Carlito Rodriguez wrote.
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