LOS ANGELES — Kerry Washington and two fictional ex-politicians, Martin Sheen, turned Hollywood’s strikes Tuesday into an exciting campaign rally with speeches celebrating unity in the industry and workers in general.
“We’re here because we know unions are important,” said Washington, who played the role of political seducer on ABC’s Scandal. “Since we are workers, we have solidarity not only within our own union, but also between our unions.”
Coinciding with a strike by Hollywood actors for more than a month and screenwriters for more than three months outside Disney Studios in Burbank, California, the rally was intended to highlight alliances with other industry guilds and unions across the country. Teamsters and AFL-CIO.
Yvonne Wheeler, president of the Los Angeles Area Labor Federation, told the crowd, “The audacity to say these studios can’t pay their employees after making billions of dollars in profit is utterly ridiculous.” She also referred to the Disney CEO who became the target of the strikers. “But despite their money, they can’t buy that kind of solidarity. Tell that to Bob Iger.
Sheen, who played the role of president for seven seasons on “The West Wing,” emphasized that the price paid as the strikes dragged on, with most of the show’s main cast joining on stage.
“Obviously this union found something worth fighting for, and it’s very costly,” Sheen said. “Were it not so, we would have had to question its value.”
Washington has also tried to emphasize that high-profile guild members like himself were once actors who still have a hard time finding jobs and making a living, as the vast majority of their members still are. Reparations addressed issues central to both strikes, including studios and streaming services that use artificial intelligence instead of actors and writers.
“We deserve a fair wage. We deserve access to healthcare. “We deserve to get rid of machines that pretend to be us,” Washington said. “The dream of being a working artist, of making a living doing what we want to do, shouldn’t be impossible.”
Washington and others diligently avoided naming the programs that made them famous, observing strike rules against the promotion of studio projects.
The alliance of studios, streaming services and production companies opposing the strikes said it had offered both unions fair contracts with unprecedented updates in salaries and AI protections before talks began.
Talks resumed between studios and writers who went on strike on May 2, but progress was slow. There have been no meetings with the actors since they went on strike on July 14.
The rally included many members and leaders of other Hollywood syndicates, which, unlike the striking guilds, were able to make deals with the studios; Among them was the International Theater Workers Alliance, which represented most of the Hollywood crew and struck an 11th hour deal to prevent the strike. in 2021. This contract expires next year.
Some thought the Directors Guild of America would be their third Hollywood strike in 2023, but the group quickly reached a contract deal, while for others, negotiations were interrupted. But its members were also unemployed, and nearly all major Hollywood productions were closed.
Paris Barclay, one of the DGA officers who led the episodes of both “Scandal” and “The West Wing,” told the crowd on Tuesday that it was important for contract workers to support their striking colleagues.
“It’s not enough for one of us to eat at the table,” said Barclay. “No one eats until everyone is at the table.”