For the first time in over sixty years, the members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are on strike at the same time. And though their specific asks differ, both unions are ultimately looking to secure broader protections for their members, as well as new restrictions on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to generate new content.
This week, I stopped by Netflix’s New York City offices where members of both guilds have been striking for weeks. The energy was incredibly high—despite this being the 16th and 6th week of striking, for WGA and SAG-AFTRA members, respectively. Both unions authorized strikes earlier this year as contract negotiations between union bargaining committees and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios and streamers that produce a vast majority of filmed content, were stalled. Union members have turned out to picket consistently since the beginning of both strikes, with picketing taking place outside the studio and streaming offices every day of the week.
While I’ve been following the strikes online since they started, this was the first time I was able to go in person, and just how energetic everyone was really struck me. When I arrived at the picket line, around Noon, union members had already been picketing since 9 am. Still, chants were loud, messages were clear, and people were present and ready to fight for the labor protections they deserve. And it wasn’t just the WGA and SAG-AFTRA members: a number of other unions, including the Teamsters, were there in solidarity.
After the picketing ended, WGA and SAG-AFTRA members closed out the strike for the day with a short rally. Their lead organizer, countering the narrative that studios and streamers have put out—that writers and actors are money-hungry, said, “People think this is about money. I don’t think this is about money. This is about power…as long as we stick together—the writers, the actors, the Teamsters, and all the other unions that support us—as long as we stick together, we will win!”
You can support the striking writers and actors by joining a picket line in the city nearest you! Check out this calendar to see if there are strikes happening in your area, and if there aren’t, check out this social media toolkit!