Get in babes: we’re off to engage in large scale labor actions!
On midnight last Thursday, the contract between studios (AMPTP) and actors (SAG-AFTRA) expired, and by the afternoon (west coast time, of course), the Screen Actors Guild had unanimously authorized a strike. Combined with nearly three-month-old work stoppage from writers across the country, the U.S. entertainment industry is shut down in a way we haven’t seen since 1960. Back then, the combined entertainment strike was over the new medium of television and how it would share its value with the people who made it possible. This time, it’s something a little bit bigger.
Because it isn’t just solidarity time in Tinseltown: UPS workers are preparing a strike as soon as August that could upend our national logistics system, while UAW and Teamsters are also in strike training to support them, and even Metro North rail workers in New York and Connecticut are rumbling about setting up a picket line. Across sectors, industries, people are organizing to take action against capital and defend their work. It’s labor activism for everybody, baby!
And frankly, it’s not a moment too soon. As we experience historic heat waves and the rise of computer-generated content, workers need to take our stake in this economy rather than being taken for granted. For decades, massive income inequality has been built from the exploitation of labor, and now the same people who piled up fortunes by taking advantage of our talents, efforts, and creativity are threatening to replace us altogether and make us pay for it. We’re either going to establish the power of workers, or be wiped out entirely.
It’s not hyperbole or exaggeration to say that we’re in an existential battle: labor abuse is up right alongside profits. Famously, Texas eliminated a raft of local protections that included water breaks for construction workers amidst record-breaking heat—and without federal standards, that’s not going to change back. Meanwhile, child labor is making a comeback, as many states relax their rules or fail to enforce violations that are supposed to prevent children as young as 10 from working in car manufacturing, meatpacking, or fast food franchises. It’s the 19th century all over again!
So this summer of solidarity isn’t about spoiled actors or whiny writers, “unskilled” labor or the convenience of ChatGPT. It’s about whether our work will be valued as the product of human endeavor. It’s about whether workers will be systematically shielded from abuse, exploitation, and theft. It’s about whether we are gonna get paid!
Support your local workers and strike efforts. Don’t cross the picket line, and listen to what workers are asking for when planning your assistance. This isn’t a time for ego or one-upmanship. This is a movement in a moment that we haven’t had in decades. If we’re going to break the half-century of capital dominance, we’re going to need to do it together. It’s a summer of solidarity and vibes—and maybe we’ll win just in time for Labor Day.