Atlanta rally backs actors, Writers Guild strikers

By Janice Lynn
and Susan Lamont
September 11, 2023
Kruz Valero-Cox

ATLANTA — More than 800 unionists rallied here Aug. 22 as part of the National Day of Solidarity with striking members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of America. SAG-AFTRA members have been on strike since July 13, and WGA members since May 2. Similar actions took place in Los Angeles, New York and other cities.

“As long as it takes!” was one of the cheers at the spirited rally held at the Teamsters Local 728 union hall. Speakers included AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler and a number of film and TV actors and writers. Workers involved in union organizing efforts at Delta Air Lines, as well as Teamsters union members who drive the large movie vans, participated in the protest. Georgia has become an increasingly attractive center for TV and film production.

“We’re not on strike, but we’re honoring the actors’ and writers’ picket lines,” Teamsters member Paul Yates told the Militant. “Their fight for a fair contract is our fight too,” noting that some 2,400 Teamsters work in the Georgia film industry.

“I definitely think there’s a concerted effort by the employers to go against the unions, to break us down. What the Biden administration and Congress last fall did to the rail workers is like being enslaved to the rail companies,” he said. Teamsters in movie and TV production face some of the same conditions as rail workers, including inhuman schedules and no family time. “When we work, it’s 16-18 hours a day,“ he pointed out.

Yates got a year’s subscription to the Militant and Teamster Rebellion by Socialist Workers Party leader Farrell Dobbs, who led the union’s over-the-road organizing drive in the 1930s. Yates was interested in learning more about the history of his union, and what’s happening in the labor movement today.