LOS ANGELES — Two weeks after members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists went on strike, joining the workers from the Writers Guild of America who walked out May 2, several unions and other workers organized to bolster their weekday picket line July 25 with a rally in front of Netflix.
Key union demands include an immediate 11% pay raise to keep up with inflation; forcing producers to get actors’ consent and to compensate them whenever a “digital replica” of their image is used; for higher residuals for rebroadcasting shows; and better pensions and health care.
Joining the rally were members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, workers from locals of the Service Employees International Union, members of United Teachers Los Angeles, as well as Starbucks and fast food workers, and Lyft and Uber drivers who are fighting for union representation.
“We’re here to show solidarity,” Matt Plotkin, a member of UFCW Local 770 who has worked at Gelson’s Market for 22 years, told the Militant.
Ana Najera, 69, has worked for a contractor as a janitor at Paramount for 31 years and is a member of SEIU. “We’re here to support actors and writers. We will also need support when our contract expires next May,” she said.
Amada Mateos is an SEIU member and works as a home care worker. She came to the rally to support the strikers because all workers face the same thing. “We are fighting for a better contract and more money as well. We want everyone to get the same pay. For home care workers some places pay $25 an hour but we get paid $17,” she said. “It’s heavy work. You have to lift patients. We are fighting for those who come after us.”
Kat Ramos was part of a contingent of Starbucks workers at the rally. The workers where she works voted in a union a year ago. “The company lawyers refused to sit and negotiate in good faith. After one year we still have no contract,” she said. “We are at the rally to show solidarity.”
Stanislav Osipov moved to the U.S. about eight years ago and his friend, Sada Arya, came five years ago. Both worked as actors in Russia.
Osipov is a member of SAG-AFTRA here. “It’s like a circle, like a mouse trap,” he said. “In order to find a good performance job I need an agent. But they stereotype my accent. They portray us as gangsters. They stereotype African Americans too. I was an actor in Russian movies and TV shows, but here I do background work and stunt work.”
Arya lives in San Francisco and is an after-school teacher and Uber driver. “I pay $900 for one room in a place with five people. We share the kitchen and bathroom. That’s the cheapest I can find,” he said. “I would like to be an actor and in SAG-AFTRA, but am not acting right now.”
“Starbucks workers must have the right to organize free from intimidation and coercion,” well-known actress Jane Fonda told the rally. “Starbucks has engaged in a historic union-busting campaign. Unions coming together in solidarity is historically important. Many workers at Starbucks here look to break into the movie industry. Like our SAG and WGA members, they’re simply asking for a safe, secure and respectful workplace with a living wage.”
SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland thanked the Starbucks union members for coming to the picket. “We want you to know that SAG-AFTRA supports you. And when all of us can join together with a shared vision for a better future, we can overcome anything.”
For strike updates and how to join a picket line visit: www.sagaftrastrike.org and wga.org.
Bill Arth contributed to this article.