Thousands of striking Writers Guild of America members along with other union workers marched in solidarity past the Academy Museum in Los Angeles on Wednesday before staging a rally at the La Brea Tar Pits.
The rally was hosted by WGA board and negotiating committee member Adam Conover, who has become one of the most outspoken voices in the Writers Guild after he called out Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav during a CNN interview on the first day of the strike.
“[AMPTP president] Carol Lombardini did not plan for how strong we are. She did not plan for the fact that eight weeks in, we are bringing the same energy as on Day 1,” Conover said. “She did not plan for our picket lines to include members from every union in town! We are marching with janitors, with housekeepers, with teachers, with strippers! We have union strippers! And that because we know have the same fight. We are all fighting for a sustainable wage in the face of corporate greed.”
The rally also had performances by Aloe Blacc and “I’m a Virgo” creator Boots Riley, who both have a long history of labor involvement inside and outside of Hollywood as Blacc performed at a 2020 SAG-AFTRA rally to demand a union contract with Spanish Broadcasting System while Riley has supported strikes for teachers and other workers in Oakland.
“We’re not just fighting for us right now. In the last three years, there’s been over 2,900 strikes in the United States. They’re scared right now. They’re scared of how militant and how ready to fight we’ve become,” Riley said. “The whole world is looking at us, and we can’t let them down.”
Roughly 20,000 Writers Guild members have been on strike since May 2, marching in front of all of Hollywood’s studios and production offices while identifying lingering productions still shooting without writers and shutting them down with grassroots picket lines. Members of the guild have gathered at on-location sites before dawn at production-site entrances, as truck drivers unionized with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters refuse to cross any picket line.
The WGA is demanding that the AMPTP provide a full counteroffer to its proposal as a prerequisite for resuming negotiations on a labor contract, including on proposed minimum staffing requirements on TV shows to curb the abuse of minirooms, which are designed to create more scripts before a show is greenlit and which the WGA says deprives younger writers of the ability to gain experience to become writer-producers and showrunners, as most of them do not remain employed once production begins.
The AMPTP, in a document explaining its stance, says that such staffing requirements are too inflexible.
“These proposals require studios to staff a show with a certain number of writers who will be hired for a specified period of time that may not align with the creative process,” the AMPTP said. “If writing needs to be done, writers are hired, but these proposals require the employment of writers whether they’re needed for the creative process or not. While the WGA has argued that the proposal is necessary to preserv(e) the writers’ room,’ it is in reality a hiring quota that is incompatible with the creative nature of our industry.”
But the AMPTP’s stance was roundly rejected by the union leaders who spoke at the tar pits on Wednesday, which included leaders from all of Hollywood’s top unions — IATSE, DGA and SAG-AFTRA — as well as those from the American Federation of Musicians, LIUNA Local 724, which represents utility workers at film studios and theme parks, and Teamsters Locals 396 and 399, which respectively represent Amazon truck drivers and Hollywood production truck drivers.
“The WGA’s talent has not only been a gift to me, but to the millions and millions of people they have reached with their stories,” said former Directors Guild president Thomas Schlamme. “It has also been a f***ing gift and a cash cow to the studios who are lucky enough to produce their works, and that is why those companies, after SAG-AFTRA has hopefully wrestled them to the ground and gotten what they deserve, have to get off their asses and get back in the room with the WGA.”
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