The glitter and glamour of Tinsel Town have been eclipsed by tension and unrest, as workers continue their historic dual strike of both the Writers and Screen Actors Guilds. For the first time since 1960, union members of both organizations have come together in a united stance against the powerful bigwigs of the studios.
The WGA and SAG-AFTRA have outlined a joint list of demands in all aspects of life in Hollywood. Both groups are fighting for higher wages, better-streaming compensation, and protections against the pervasiveness of artificial intelligence.
The striking workers took center stage this week as SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher and former presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, took part in a live stream event to rally support for the movement.
The union official had strong words for Disney chief executive Robert Iger, who remarked that the unions’ demands were “not realistic” upon attending an exclusive mogul gathering in Sun Valley last week.
“He stuck his foot in it so bad that you notice none of the other CEOs are opening their mouths,” Drescher said. “Why are we doing this anyway? We’re in business with these people. They are who we are building our business off of.”
The leader also noted a lack of empathy from the studios’ negotiating body, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. “You got to be consistent in your life with how you treat other people,” she added.
The repercussions of the dual strike are already being felt across Hollywood, and are expected to take an even harsher toll on California’s economy. It’s estimated that a 2007-08 writers’ strike cost the region an estimated $2.1 billion, with a much higher amount expected this time around.
The striking workers are standing firm, with Drescher citing abolitionist Frederick Douglass to make her point: “Frederick Douglass said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.’ And nothing has changed.”
It remains to be seen how long the workers will continue to stand firm, but their fight for justice has already put the studio bigwigs on notice.