On Labor Day, Hollywood guild leaders tout union solidarity

A group of striking actors hold signs.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, white cap front, and the union’s national executive director and chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, left, greet picketers outside Netflix in Los Angeles on July 14.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
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Hollywood guild leaders representing striking writers and actors rallied their members on Labor Day by stressing their common cause with other unions.

SAG-AFTRA members have been on strike since mid-July in a dispute over streaming pay and automation.

But Jodi Long, president of SAG-AFTRA’s Los Angeles local, said actors were not alone on picket lines.


“SAG-AFTRA member commitment to this fight, our resolve to stay strong and our unique visibility to the world can serve to not only invigorate the entire labor movement, but also to totally change our industry,” wrote Long, an actor and longtime leader in the union, in an email to members.

Long added: “This is a shared fight that finds its strength through the larger labor movement that has swept our country, from UPS employees to hotel workers, the continued organizing of Starbucks and Amazon workers and our WGA sisters and brothers.”

SAG-AFTRA has approved a deal from the studios to end its historic strike. The actors were on strike for more than 100 days.

Nov. 10, 2023

Members of the Writers Guild of America have been on strike for four months over many of the same issues. The protracted twin strikes have disrupted film and TV productions nationwide and caused pain for entertainment businesses and crews that have lost work.

A video shared Monday featuring the WGA’s negotiating committee co-chair, Chris Keyser, similarly emphasized the union’s solidarity with SAG-AFTRA as well as other unions, including the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Teamsters.

“For labor all across the country, this is the message: We, and everyone who strikes with us, are the beacon of hope,” Keyser said. “On this Labor Day, the eyes of labor are on us.”

Keyser added: “We are not on strike out of greed, nor do we begrudge the companies their success or deny their struggles...But the changes that the companies have orchestrated in the business have made the profession of writing untenable for us and for everyone who comes after us.”


Representatives for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios in labor negotiations, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We are deeply committed to ending the strike and are hopeful that the WGA will work toward the same resolution,” alliance President Carol Lombardini said in a statement released last month.

Beyond the world of film and television, Los Angeles has also seen recent labor agitation from fast-food workers, hotel workers and city staffers. Often playing out on scorching sidewalks beneath a hot Southern California sun, the trend is so pronounced as to have garnered the nickname “hot labor summer.”

That’s on top of recent union organizing elsewhere in the country at companies such as Starbucks and Amazon.

“I know that some of us may find this strike personally challenging, and the sacrifice for this collective action may take its toll. But you are not alone,” Long said in her email, linking to a guide to California unemployment benefits and information about financial assistance, food security and other programs.

Long also extended thanks to the union’s negotiating committee, strike captains and picket volunteers.


She added: “Keep cool, stay safe, get some much needed rest and stay strong.”

Long was elected president of the L.A. local — the union’s largest — in 2021.

In a separate email, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, commended the union’s members on their tenacity and said “the issues we’re striking over are an existential threat to the profession of acting.”

He added: “The essence of Labor Day is embodied in you.”

The SAG-AFTRA website lists various marches, rallies and parades planned across the country for Labor Day.