The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) combined strike is about to complete a month, with no end in sight. The strike has had a major impact on the entertainment industry, as production on many television shows and movies has been shut down, and some networks have already begun to air reruns.
The impact is not only at the production level, but financial. In fact, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) estimates that the strike is costing the industry US$1 billion per week. However, the stoppage has also had a ripple economic effect on other industries too, such as the advertising and tourism, as well as the union’s own members.
The industry’s screenwriters have been off the job for nearly 100 days, and screen actors have been on strike for almost a month. The dual labor stoppages have pushed some workaday scribes and performers into precarious financial situations. That is why a couple of days ago the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports actors during crises, announced that some of Hollywood’s top-earning stars have donated over US$15 million to the cause.
SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program aims to provide relief aid to eligible SAG-AFTRA performers in unexpected financial crises. Thanks to the support of some stars such as George and Amal Clooney, Luciana and Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness, Dwayne Johnson, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, Julia Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meryl Streep, and Oprah Winfrey, the Foundation is preparing to bring aid to thousands of journeymen actors facing the economic hardship.
“Our Emergency Financial Assistance Program is here to ensure that performers in need do not lose their homes, have the ability to pay for utilities, buy food for their families, purchase life-saving prescriptions, cover medical bills and more. It is a massive challenge, but we are determined to meet this moment,” said Courtney B. Vance, President of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.
● NOT THE ONLY STRIKE
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike is just one of several labor disputes that have erupted in the United States in recent months. Other strikes have taken place at companies such as Boeing, Starbucks and Kellogg's.
Most recently, thousands of city workers in Los Angeles went on strike for a scheduled 24-hour work stoppage on Wednesday. In detail, a group of sanitation workers, traffic officers and airport personnel started their first “unfair labor practices” strike in over 40 years, with union members picketing at city hall and the airport. The strike received 98% approval from union members in May and is provoked by what the Service Employees International Union, the public sector union representing them, says is “City management’s refusal to bargain with members in good faith and other unfair labor practices restricting employee and union rights.”