Recent strikes by Hollywood writers, actors, and Southern California hotel workers are reflecting a surge in union activity, with workers protesting against reportedly low wages, a lack of AI regulation, and more.
The protests come after years of allegedly stagnant salaries, growing cost-of-living expenses in California, low pay for TV staff, and job security concerns due to the rapid progression of artificial intelligence. As for hotel workers, their desired $5 per hour wage increase is primarily meant to help employees move closer to the hotels where they work, rather than commuting several hours each day from areas with lower costs of living.
Get the latest updates on the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike, and how the hotel workers strike has progressed since the beginning of July.
Why Is Hollywood on Strike (SAG-AFTRA)?
Hollywood actors have taken to the picket line for two core reasons: a push for higher pay and royalties in a streaming-dominated industry, and to tighten regulations around the use of artificial intelligence to render actors – such as with Salma Hayek’s “digital” appearance in a recent Black Mirror episode.
Following the Writers Guild of America strike against low wages for streaming writers and AI threats, Hollywood’s Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) began its own protest about two months later on July 14, 2023.
The strike occurred over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), and has resulted in countless TV shows and movies being put on hold until the matter is resolved. Over 65,000 actors joined the protest its first week, with late night television being the first to halt, followed by TV series and blockbuster films.
Updates on the WGA (Writers Guild of America) Strike
The WGA strike, which has been centered around low wages for streaming TV writers and AI regulation for job safety, is still in full swing since the Basic Agreement’s contract between writers and the AMPTP expired on May 1, 2023.
As discussed in this recent blog, the dominance of streaming services and its adverse effects on writers is the core driver of the WGA’s recent protest – which hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
The strike will reach its three-month mark on August 2, 2023, and if it lasts any longer than 100 days, it will become the second largest WGA strike in history behind the 1988 strike which lasted 154 days. Most recently, the 2023 Emmy Awards are now postponed with no confirmed date, since the Emmys can’t go on without writers or actors.
I recently discussed and offered my insights regarding the WGA strike in a FOX News appearance, which you can view here.
On July 28, 2023, I also had the opportunity to join the Beverly Hills Bar Association Entertainment Law Section and a group of esteemed entertainment lawyers, mediators, and academics to discuss how mediators and mediation can play a role in helping bring creative solutions of the respective strikes. You can view the presentation here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtMlmweIV84.
The SoCal Hotel Worker Strike
Along with union activity on Hollywood Boulevard, thousands of hotel workers in Southern California also went on strike on July 2, 2023 to demand higher salaries and more robust benefits packages.
The strikes came about after a contract between the hotels and Unite Here Local 11, the union representing 15,000 hotel workers across 62 hotels, expired on Saturday, July 1. Over 95% of the union voted last month to authorize a strike amid disputes over pay and benefits, including raises that can enable them to live closer to the hotels they work at rather than commuting multiple hours a day.
The core demand is a $5 per hour pay increase in 2023, followed by an additional $3 raise in 2024 and 2025. Ultimately, the strike signals a fight for basic workplace accommodations and security in an era where many hotel workers, especially in California where costs are high, can’t currently afford to live in the cities where they work.
Experienced Employment & Title IX Mediator & ADR Professional
Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment, labor law & Title IX mediator and alternative dispute resolution professional. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues. Furthermore, she’s been named a “Top 50 Woman Attorney” in California by Super Lawyers, a “Top California Employment Lawyer” by the Daily Journal, and one of Los Angeles’ “Most Influential Minority and Women Attorneys” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, NewsNation, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.
Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Signature Resolution, a California dispute resolution company. She also owns her dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation and resolution of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram @iamangelareddockwright, LinkedIn at Linkedin.com/in/angelareddock, and tune in to my weekly radio show, KBLA Talk 1580’s Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright each Saturday and Sunday at 11 am PST, or catch past episodes on Anchor.fm/Spotify. You can learn more about the radio show here – https://angelareddock-wright.com/radio-show/.
Also, learn more about my book – The Workplace Transformed: 7 Crucial Lessons from the Global Pandemic – here https://angelareddock-wright.com/book/.
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This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.