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Activists Push Palestine To The Front Line Of The Oscars

“The Palestinian protests shut down the Oscars tonight!” shouted actor and activist Mark Ruffalo on the red carpet, on the way to the 2024 Academy Awards ceremony on the night of March 10. “Humanity wins!” he said, raising his fist. Indeed, right outside where A-list celebrities were gathered for Hollywood’s most important awards ceremony, a massive crowd was taking to the streets of Los Angeles, shouting “while you’re watching, bombs are dropping!” and holding banners with slogans such as “No awards for genocide.”

The Hollywood Strikes Showed A New Class Consciousness Is Growing

As 2023 draws to a close, one of the biggest stories of the year was the “hot labor summer” and the overall rise of labor activity. The most significant of these strikes was the UAW strike, which began in mid-September and lasted until mid-October. The Hollywood strikes of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) probably generated fewer high-profile headlines. But they deserve some special attention for a few reasons. The strikes ground a highly lucrative industry to a halt, and they cost California and other production-heavy states at least $6 billion in lost wages and business impacts.

The New Hollywood McCarthyism Emerging Around Palestine

Following the outbreak of Israel’s latest war on Gaza, Melissa Barrera, an up-and-coming young actor who made a name for herself as the star of the Scream franchise, became vocal on social media, denouncing the war on Gaza and resharing posts which accused Israel of perpetuating ethnic cleansing and genocide. In response to these posts, Spyglass Media, the production company of Scream, fired Barrera from the upcoming film and accused her of antisemitism despite Barrera explicitly posting, in one of her Instagram posts denouncing Israel, “We don’t need more hate. No Islamophobia. No antisemitism.” 

Film And TV Production Assistants Are Unionizing

We won’t grasp all the repercussions of 2023’s ‘Hot Labor Summer’ for years to come, but one place where the effects are already being noted is Hollywood. Building on the momentum of the newly-chartered IATSE Local 111, which represents thousands of commercial production workers across the country, production assistants in the Film and TV sector are coming together to fight back against exploitative working conditions in the industry. The Real News speaks with organizers from Production Assistants United to understand the conditions faced by production workers in Film and TV, and how the unionization of these PAs could reshape the politics of Hollywood labor.

IATSE Members Launch Reform Caucus As Hollywood Strikes Wrap

After supporting screenwriters and actors through a months-long double strike, film and television crew workers are finally stepping into the spotlight themselves. Dissatisfied with their union’s leadership and direction, a group of members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) is launching a reform caucus called CREW, or the Caucus of Rank-and-File Entertainment Workers. Their first public event will be a webinar on November 16 on preparing for the 2024 expiration of the main pattern-setting contracts they work under, the Hollywood Basic Agreement (HBA) and Area Standards Agreement (ASA).

To Live And Strike In Hollywood

In the seminal book The Hollywood Writers’ Wars by Nancy Lynn Schwartz, completed by her mother Sheila Schwartz upon her daughter’s untimely death, the internal and external battles of Writers Guild of America, WGA, formed in 1933, were chronicled.  The Schwartz’s note of this then bourgeois gig: It was a great time to be prosperous, young, and progressive in the movie kingdom. You could live better than nine-tenths of the nation yet remain, through political activity, intimately connected to the pulse of humanity. That connection would prove to not just be blue-collar lives put to paper and screen by a bunch of lefties and their hardcore red buddies. By the 1940s, writers were seeking to better their working conditions.

Five Lessons From The North Hollywood Stripper Strike

The successful formation of a union in an industry like stripping — defined by high turnover, irregular pay scales, a culture of competition fostered by employers and stigmatized labor – is incredibly rare. Before Star Garden and Magic Tavern, the feat had only been achieved once before, at the Lusty Lady Theatre in San Francisco in 1996, which has since closed its doors. The journey to unionization was not an easy one. Facing every union-busting tactic in the book, Equity Strippers Noho, formerly known as the North Hollywood Stripper Strike, was actively picketing outside of Star Garden for a whopping eight months before they officially read the results of their union election: a unanimous “yes.”

Negotiating With Hollywood: Writers’ Representatives Tell The Story

Writers are finally back to work in Hollywood after the WGA and studios reached a deal, which has left many in the industry asking, “What took so long?” Chris Keyser and David A. Goodman, the co-chairs of WGA’s negotiating committee, pin the blame on the stall tactics that the studios used alongside the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, one that was rendered ineffective by the solidarity built between the WGA and other unions throughout the summer. “The AMPTP was created in the 80s during the Reagan era, a very anti-labor time. Now, labor is reasserting itself over the last few years, and the AMPTP can’t use old tactics anymore of stalling and trying to squeeze the unions,” Keyser told TheWrap.

Hollywood Writers Secure Tentative Deal After 146 Days Of Strike

After nearly five months, striking writers have secured a tentative agreement with Hollywood studio bosses. In a statement released on Sunday, September 24, the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA), which has been organizing the strike, announced that “an agreement in principle on all deal points” have been arrived at by the bargaining team. The deal comes after the latest round of talks between the bargaining team of the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), while writers completed 146 days on strike. As per reports, the latest round of talks reached a major impasse on Saturday, but the AMPTP relented on a mutually agreeable deal on Sunday.

Hollywood Is A Union Town, But The History Is Complicated

The American movie industry has been one of the most consistently unionized sectors of the economy since the 1930s — but to achieve that, workers had to overcome “the iron fist of the moguls” and organized crime, says historian Gerald Horne, author of Class Struggle in Hollywood 1930-1950. Craft workers — painters, plumbers, carpenters — were the first to organize, joining the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), founded in New York in 1893. Five hundred of them went on strike in 1918. The Screen Writers Guild, ancestor of the Writers Guild of America, was founded at a meeting of 10 writers in February 1933, and the Screen Actors Guild, a few months later.

Why The Hollywood Strike Matters To All Of Us

Over the last decade, the entertainment industry has shifted away from legacy distribution models like film and television and embraced a streaming-first model. The move has been a lucrative one, bringing billions of dollars in revenue to the industry. But those profits haven’t reached working actors and writers. Some 87% of actors earn less than $26,000 per year; many writers have to work second jobs to make ends meet. And so, for the first time since 1960, members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) are on strike simultaneously — and Hollywood has effectively shut down.

Sweat And Solidarity On The Picket Line

A day on the picket line begins with considering the heat. It’s August. I live in the Valley. Even in the best of times, even in a merely “normal hot” summer and not a “climate change is breaking daily temperature records across the globe” summer, it would be quite hot, and spending hours outside in direct sunlight during the middle of the day would be the kind of thing I would work hard to avoid. But because there is a strike going on and I need to picket, staying home is not an option. And so I consider the heat and how best to protect myself. The Writers Guild is on strike and has been for months.

Hollywood Guilds Team Up With Labor Unions For ‘Hot Strike Summer’

Hollywood writers and actors aren’t the only unionized workers picketing in Los Angeles right now. In a show of force for the labor movement, the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are teaming up with workers across the city to march in solidarity for better wages and working conditions. Hospitality workers union Unite Here 11, which has been on strike since June 30, staged a solidarity rally in Hollywood Friday that saw hundreds of its members join up with entertainment industry workers to march from the W Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard past the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine and on to the Netflix offices at Sunset Bronson Studios, where they were met with cheers by writers and actors on the daily picket lines.

Oppenheimer’s Deadly Legacy Of Nuclear Terror

To glorify such deadly science and technology as a dramatic character study, is to spit in the face of hundreds of thousands of corpses and survivors scattered throughout the history of the so-called Atomic age. Think of it this way, for every minute that passes during the film’s 3-hour run time, more than 1,100 citizens in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki died due to Oppenheimer’s weapon of mass destruction. This doesn’t account for those downwind of nuclear tests who were exposed to radioactive fallout (some are protesting screenings), it doesn’t account for those poisoned by uranium mines, it doesn’t account for those killed during nuclear power plant melt-downs, it doesn’t account for those in the Marshall Islands who are forever poisoned.

Workers Shut Down Hollywood

Hollywood is shut down now that workers organized with the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), which include actors, singers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, stunt performers and voiceover artists hit the picket lines on strike for the first time in 43 years on July 14. This strike is occurring simultaneously with the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) strike of 11,500 entertainment writers, who have ceased labor since May 2. This is the first time the two unions have struck simultaneously since 1960.
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