WGA West President Meredith Stiehm, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and SAG-AFTRA national board members Frances Fisher and Shari Belafonte joined hundreds of striking writers and actors on the picket line today outside the main gate of Fox Studios in Century City.
Also on hand were Yvonne Wheeler, the newly elected president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, executive secretary treasurer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.
Stiehm, noting that this is the 87th day of the writers strike, told the sign-carrying picketers gathered in front of the studio’s block-long water fountain on Pico Boulevard: “If we want something enough and think it’s really worthwhile, we may have to struggle for it. That’s how you get things of value – you fight for it.”
Chanting “On strike, shut it down, L.A. is a union town,” the peaceful and cheerful picketers carried signs that read, “A robot would make a great CEO” and, in a knock on Disney, “We’re unrealistic? You bought Fox.”
“There are a lot of labor queens here today,” Stiehm told Deadline. “I’m very proud of genre writers who are women because they forged a path that was difficult for them. It was not necessarily an open door, and they persevered and they got what they wanted and succeeded. And that’s a good lesson for us out here on the picket line, because we’re struggling and working hard. But it’s going to be worth the fight.”
Stiehm was joined on the picket line by Betsy Thomas, secretary-treasurer of the WGA West, both of whom are running for re-election in the guild’s upcoming election.
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Shuler, whose labor organization represents 60 unions and nearly 13 million unionized workers, told the cheering crowd: “We’re celebrating women’s leadership here today. Look at these power women of the labor movement. We’re talking genre queens; we’re talking L.A. and California AFL-CIO. I know we’ve got a bargaining committee full of powerful women – and men.”
Shuler, who joined picketers on Tuesday outside Netflix’s offices in New York City, said today that she’s “been walking picket lines all week. I was up in New York with writers, with SAG-AFTRA and the rest of the labor movement standing strong. And that’s what I see out here today. You are not alone. You have 13 million working people across this country that have your back. You are capturing the imagination of the entire country – of the world.”
Fisher, who serves on the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee, told Deadline: “This entertainment industrial complex strike is not just for the entertainment industry, but it’s a worldwide labor movement. It is just getting stronger and stronger. And as we rise, we are inspiring other workers to rise up for fair wages and working conditions.”
Belafonte, speaking over the honks of passing cars expressing their support for the strikes, told the picketers that the member companies of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers “are more concerned with making money for themselves and their stockholders than putting roofs over our heads and putting food on our tables. They are refusing to even acknowledge what we bring to the table.”
Blasting the pay of studio CEOs, Belafonte said: “One man is making $106,000 – a day. Another is making $126,000 – a day. And another one is making $139,000 – a day.”
To which one of the picketers shouted, “Greedy!”
SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July 14, and this is the first time that actors and writers have struck at the same time since 1960, when Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild.