As the labour crisis that has shuttered Hollywood expands to new locations, striking actors and screenwriters conducted protests in Philadelphia and Chicago on Thursday.
While the major strike hotspots are in Los Angeles and New York, there are numerous small and mid-sized locals across the nation that represent actors and writers.
“We have the same issues,” said Nikki Izanec, president of the Philadelphia SAG-AFTRA local, on her way to Thursday’s rally. “Lots of people pay attention to L.A. and New York, but our issues are the same as theirs.”
Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter, stars of the popular television programme “Abbott Elementary,” attended the march in Philadelphia at Love Park. Ralph proclaimed, “Enough is enough, and we demand more.” Additionally present were actors David Morse and Brian Anthony Wilson.
The Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2, and last week, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) leaders unanimously decided to follow suit.
“We’re the voices of multi-trillion dollar TV theatrical streaming industry. And we all have a common goal, and that’s to make living wages in an industry that takes advantage of us,” said Izanec.
Numerous strikers in black SAG T-shirts marched through Millennium Park and Grant Park in Chicago while chanting, “We’re union/United/Never be divided.” “This Land Is Your Land” was played by a tiny brass band.
There are no ongoing or scheduled negotiations between the unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which speaks for studios, streamers, and production businesses.
“I feel like people would be surprised to hear that 87% of our members make under $26,000 a year, and that’s just under the amount that they need to qualify for health care. So that’s a national problem,” said Izanec.
America is covered in movie and television sets. The production of shows like “Chicago Med,” “Chicago PD,” and “The Chi” in cities like Chicago has ceased until the strike is over. In Massachusetts, there were more than 30 significant productions in 2016. On Wednesday, there were street brawls in Boston.
Since the entertainment business is still recovering from the pandemic, Disney CEO Bob Iger said last week that now is not the time for a strike.
Izanec said that she found it unfair that Iger earns $74,000 per day while the typical WGA member only makes $59,000 annually. “The majority of us are aware that we are middle-class performers. We’re attempting to be workers in the middle class,” she remarked.
Residual payments, which have been almost completely eliminated by the move to the streaming system, and the unpaid use of their work and likeness by artificial intelligence avatars are major concerns for both unions.
On those matters as well as others, the AMPTP claimed to have provided fair conditions.
Sarah Silverman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Witaske, and Kendrick Sampson were among the striking actors outside the Netflix studios in Los Angeles.