Los Angeles Mass labor action builds WGA strike momentum

“Solidarity Is Power” lead banner of the LA County Labor Federation “Unions Strike Back” march, May 26, 2023.

Thousands of workers from many unions shut down major intersections outside Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena during Friday rush hour on May 26, in a display of labor power and solidarity with striking Hollywood writers. Some 11,500 strikers of the Writers Guild are entering their fourth week of battle against attacks by billion-dollar movie studios and TV production companies. 

The “Unions Strike Back” march, rally and dance party was called by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. It clogged the intersection of South Figueroa and West 12th streets for hours. A Teamsters flatbed truck served as the soundstage, positioned to target the California Democratic Convention, meeting across the street at the LA Convention Center. The CDC is a recipient of millions of dollars in donations from big studio bosses and their banking financiers.

While studio bosses continue to flaunt their exorbitant lifestyles at publicized events like the Cannes Film Festival, the militant and massive LACFL united labor action reflects growing success by a newly awakened labor movement, which has been successfully shutting down movie and TV productions coast to coast. 

A Los Angeles Times report of May 24, headlined “Inside the writers’ ‘guerrilla tactics’ to shut down live productions,” describes an effective new tactic of direct strike confrontation at production sites: “Unlike during the 2007-2008 strike, which occurred in the middle of the TV season, this strike happened after most productions had already wrapped and studios had more time to prepare for a walkout. 

“Still, dozens of shows and movies have been forced to halt or delay production, some because showrunners refused to work; others because of impromptu pickets like the one [in Chicago] targeting ‘The Chi’ that one writer described as ‘guerrilla tactics.’ These protests, although sanctioned by the union’s leadership, often are organized by rank-and-file members with the help of social media.”

Speakers at the rally emphasized their unions’ concrete solidarity in assisting WGA ranks to shut down production sites. Teamsters Local 399 Secretary-Treasurer Lindsay Dougherty, director of the Motion Picture Division, spoke of Teamster truck drivers refusing to cross strike lines coast to coast: “To all the bad employers out there, if you’re gonna f— around, you’re gonna find out!” 

Other union representatives spoke out, vowing to broaden and strengthen the strike lines.

Steve Gillis

Published by
Steve Gillis

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