The Writers Guild of America West received the most robust support from their sister unions in Los Angeles at the “Unions Strike Back” Rally on Friday evening.
In solidarity with WGAW President Meredith Stiehm stood Hollywood Teamsters Local 399 secretary-treasurer and chief negotiator, Lindsay Dougherty; SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland; UTLA President, Cecily Myart-Cruz; Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11; and California Federation of Labor AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Lorena Gonzalez, among others.
In front of thousands of union workers, Stiehm gave an impassioned speech as the WGA closed out its 25th day striking against the AMPTP who have yet to agree to meet at the negotiating table. (She called this Day 24.)
“We are here because we are union, just like everyone else here, and we are on strike. This is Day 24. We’ve been on the picket lines fighting for a fair contract. But, we have not walked alone,” Stiehm said as four news helicopters flew above the platform. “We’ve seen you out on the line, SAG-AFTRA. We’ve seen you IATSE. We’ve seen you, Teamsters. Trucks are pulling up to our picket lines, and they are turning around, and they are shutting down production every single day.”
Stiehm spoke of the solidarity between the sister unions whose members have joined her and fellow striking writers on the picket lines held daily at the various studios across Los Angeles. She showed her gratitude for IATSE and the teamsters who have not crossed the picket lines at the local studios and film and TV sets all over the United States.
“Something is happening out there. Something new. Labor is rising. We have your support because other unions and other workers see their struggle in our struggle. We are also feeling marginalized, gigged out, and pressed for as much work as possible for as little pay as possible, and it’s not right. It’s not humane. It’s not moral. The bosses, management, and corporations must share the wealth that we helped create. They must share it properly and fairly, and until they do, we will hold the line,” she said.
“I don’t think the studios saw this blue wave coming, writers. I think they misjudged our power, the backup we have from Hollywood labor and LA labor. And by the way, when it’s your turn, we will be there with you. I don’t think the bosses knew what they were up against when they failed to listen to us 24 days ago. But they should look around. They should look at this crowd and this unity and, if they didn’t know, well now they know. Union now. Union forever,” she concluded.
Crabtree-Ireland followed, with an impassioned speech of his own, vowing that members of SAG-AFTRA will continue to picket with the WGA for as long as it takes.
“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 and a fair deal from their employers. Actors are workers, just like everybody else here, and they are finding it impossible to maintain a sustainable living doing a job they love,” he said. “Yet, giant media companies who own the studios and the streaming platforms report billions of dollars in revenue, and they pay their CEOs millions of dollars, while the cast and crew struggle to earn a decent living.”
He also reminded the crowd that SAG-AFTRA is currently holding its own strike authorization vote ahead of its negotiation with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which is set to begin on June 7. The guild’s current contract expires June 30.
“Though corporate greed has put a middle-class lifestyle out of reach for so many, we have this amazing tool to help us fight for a more equitable future,” he continued. “And that’s unity. They may have the money, but we have the numbers. Just look around. We have the numbers. We have the people who fuel these companies’ profits, and we stand united for a better future. This is the power of labor unions.”
The crowd went wild when teamster-boss Dougherty took the mic and began a chant of “When I say union you say town…”
Referring to AMPTP as “the evil empire,” Dougherty said, “we’re going to stand in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, the Hollywood Basic Crafts, AFM for every single fight we have with those employers because when we fight together, we win together. When we fight, we win.”
Dougherty also brought up another Hollywood employed, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. “They are not willing to give our members the fair wages that they deserve,” she added, “We’re ready to take a commercial break with them. If we are provoked, we will strike.”
More video from the rally can be found below.