All eyes are on the WGA strike, from the state capital to our nation’s capital and even across the world.
Such was the message of two pro-labor politicians who paid a special visit to Amazon Studios Friday to express their support for the striking WGA members. The Guild welcomed Rep. Katie Porter of the 47th Congressional District (Orange County) and California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo both of whom walked the picket lines with the WGA. WGA Negotiating Committee Co-Chairs Chris Keyser and David A. Goodman were among those in attendance.
“I cannot tell you how much this movement means to every unionized worker in this country,” Porter said, addressing the picketers. “The grocery workers see you. The people who are working in warehouses see you. This is about your contract and your livelihood and your industry, but it is about so much more. It is about what kind of economy America deserves.”
Durazo, a former union organizer, UNITE HERE Executive Vice President and secretary-treasurer of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, also emphasized that, through their actions, WGA members are making a stand for all workers.
“This strike is good for labor and it’s good for all people,” Durazo said. “It means that there’s a strong voice taking on these big corporations. There are strong workers who are organizing to say enough is enough, we’re not going to let you keep taking away what we have earned, and finding tricks to take away what we have earned. I want to be part of it. I want to be supportive because you speak for everybody.”
Political support for the WGA is increasing daily with legislators from across the country sending their messages of solidarity and wishes for a fair deal. Check out the list of those who stand with writers.
“I love feeding people,” says Stephen Lancellotti.
A WGAW member since 2012, Lancellotti comes by his love of food honestly. He grew up working in his family’s restaurant, Casa Di Napoli in Union City, New Jersey and wrote his first script about, you guessed it, an Italian restaurant.
Pizza-making is his passion, a mania which he embraced with particular gusto during the pandemic.
“You make pizza every day because you have nothing else to do,” said Lancellotti, adding that the hobby resulted in him gaining 20 pounds.
When the 2023 strike hit, Lancellotti tried to figure out a way to bring his homemade pizza to the picket lines for his fellow members to enjoy. The idea, however, proved impractical since he could think of no easy way to keep the pizzas warm.
So he pivoted to focaccia. Conscious of people’s concerns about hygiene, he decided to package the focaccia roles individually. He tapped a friend who owned a sticker company and created the slogan “Give us our Bread! WGA Strike 2023,” asking that consumers share their photos on his Instagram account.
Earlier in the week, Lancellotti brought the focaccias to CBS Television City where he picketed and then again to Disney on Friday.
“I love making breads and pizzas and this is a way for me to contribute other than being on the picket line,” he said, adding “but I stay and picket. I don’t just drop off the bread and leave.”
Four Generations of Union Solidarity
WGAW member Nicole French is giving her children an early lesson in fighting the good fight, just as she was taught by the women who instilled those same values in her.
French has been a regular on the lines since the strike began, sometimes with her husband, Bradinn French (an editor and IATSE 700 member), and at other times with her fellow member of the So Help me Todd writers room.
Earlier this week, French went to Sony with her 21-month-old son Israel. Joining her on the lines were French’s mother, Rita Gutteriez, and her grandmother, Ernestine Rouse.
The family that pickets together, sticks together.
“My mom called me the day before and said my grandma wants to picket. I was like, ‘Really? She’s 84!’" Nicole French said, with a laugh. “My mom said, ‘Yeah, well, she loves picketing. She’s all about unions' She used to work at General Telephone & Electric (GTE) and she was on the picket lines when they were striking over wages and benefits.”
Rouse was on the picket lines herself in 1988 and her union authorized a work stoppage again in 1994 before reaching a last-minute settlement. Having grown up among women who championed the value of unions, French took on these values. She went to law school and, instead of going into corporate law, ended up working in family law “for the people who need it most.”
“And now I’m passing that on to my 21-month-old son and my soon to be born son who will be learning the same things,” said French, who is due to deliver her second son in about two weeks.