I don’t know if you have seen people from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and most recently the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) striking for better wages and future working conditions. As I learn more about their concerns and demands, the more I see how all labor struggles are inextricably linked and we need to pay close attention to these fights.
The wealth gap continues to increase in this country and we see studio executives making millions and cashing out for millions, all while paying their employees a mere fraction of their salaries.
Many people think of A-list celebrities and think, why should I support rich people striking? However, the household named celebrities are a very very small percentage of those in the Writers Guild and Screen Actors Guild. For context, there are more than 16,000 members in the WGA and around 160,000 members in SAG. The vast majority of the members of SAG are not even eligible for health insurance because they don’t make enough money. They are working actors and writers who use their skills to make a living and they do not want to let artificial intelligence (AI) come in and write their scripts or use their likeness in future projects. They are also asking for a piece of the pie from the studios who make millions from streaming services.
These strikes are for the future of their industry. Just like coal miners in Alabama striking for better working conditions, better wages, and the future of their industry, the members of WGA and SAG also want to protect the future of their work. If you watch television or movies, you should be paying attention to the strike, their demands, and how studio executives are treating the workers in their industry.
Lots of people want to know how they can support members of WGA and SAG at this time. As of now, canceling your streaming subscription is not helpful. Unless the unions call for that, do not cancel your subscription to prove a point. The best way to help those on strike is to donate to the Entertainment Community Fund which provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan. To find out more go to www.entertainmentcommunity.org.
You can also learn more about the various labor struggles happening on college campuses, at hospitals, and airports all over the country, to name just a few places. As Dr. Martin Luther King always told us, we are all joined by collective labor struggles. Whether we are looking out for transit worker or sanitation worker, or writers or nurses, we should care that our fellow community members are making a decent living wage for their work. This is the beginning of a larger labor wave so let’s educate ourselves on how we can help fight and win.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an Associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream”, and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of The Blackest Questions podcast at TheGrio.