Writers Guild strikers rally at Rockefeller Center

By Joanne Kuniansky
June 12, 2023

NEW YORK — Over 500 members and supporters of the striking Writers Guild of America union rallied outside Rockefeller Center here May 23. Mike Karnell, who has been a writer for seven years, told the Militant that he believes striking now is the right thing because “the labor movement has more momentum today. People are more connected.”

Solidarity from other unions was evident with delegations carrying signs and wearing union T-shirts. All of the entertainment industry unions participated — actors, stagehands, makeup artists, scenic designers, musicians and others. Organized contingents were there from the United Food and Commercial Workers; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union; Teamsters; Laborers’ Local 79; Communications Workers of America; Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ; and more.

“With the industry’s shift from broadcast television to streaming, we have lost pay and benefits that were hard won over years,” Ian Bieberman, a writer for over 20 years, told the Militant. “It’s difficult to make a living working as a writer today. We had to strike to get what we deserve. Unite and stand up or they will roll over you.”

The handwritten signs captured the spirit of the strike: “Do the write thing! Miss your show — let them know! No wages, no pages!”

Joe Opio, a young New York comedian and Writers Guild member, spoke at the rally. He explained that he was one of the four writers who shut down production on the Paramount+ series “Evil” by picketing outside the Brooklyn studio for eight hours.

“The only reason we succeeded is because the Teamsters and the IATSE crew members refused to cross our picket line the whole night,” he said to cheers. “So I learned a very valuable lesson that night — the other unions are willing and ready to stand in solidarity with us. All we have to do is turn up and form a picket line.”

The solidarity came through strongly from the unions on the speakers platform. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said, “Whether we’re fighting for the rights of writers, teachers, nurses, retail workers, warehouse workers or construction workers — we are all in this together.” New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento and New York City Central Labor Council leader Vinnie Alvarez also spoke.

The Guild is picketing outside studios and other production facilities in New York, New Jersey, Hollywood, California, everywhere shows are being done. Locations and times are posted on the Writers Guild website. Show your support!