Writers on the Line

On the Line
IATSE and LACDP Solidarity with the WGA
Support for writers pours in from near and far
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
IATSE leaders including President Matthew D. Loeb (3rd from left) and 4th International Vice President Michael F. Miller (center) joined other IATSE local leaders and WGAW members and leaders in solidarity at the Fox Studios picket lines. Photo: Brittany Woodside.

With more than 168,000 entertainment industry professionals in their membership-from stagehands to camera, from wardrobe attendants to scenic designers and audiovisual designers-the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) and its members are integral to Hollywood production. On Friday, they turned out in force on the WGA picket line.

The WGA welcomed IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb and several local labor leaders to Fox Studios where they walked the picket lines along with WGAW members and leadership. Among those in attendance were 2nd International Vice President Thomas Davis and Michael F. Miller, 4th International Vice President/Department Director, Motion Picture & Television Production, and Rusty Hicks, Chair of the California Democratic Party and the former Secretary-Treasurer to the L.A. County Federation of Labor.

“I’m proud to have walked the picket line with you at Fox in what proved to be a powerful display of resilience and unity between our unions,” said Loeb. “To the writers, know this – we stand with you. The AMPTP’s failure to meet your reasonable demands or exhibit fairness is driving the Hollywood guilds and unions together with unprecedented solidarity. We will continue to show our shared commitment to a fair and just entertainment industry.” Read Loeb’s full statement here.

IATSE and its studio locals have been important supporters of the WGA both in the weeks leading up to the strike and on the picket lines since May 2. At the Guild’s recent member meeting at the Shrine Auditorium, VP Miller acknowledged that the WGA and IATSE have faced many of the same obstacles in their respective negotiations with the AMPTP. In 2021, IATSE received a more than 98% strike authorization vote before ultimately reaching an agreement on a new contract.

“We heard the same familiar boring talking points and excuses, why ‘We don’t understand your proposals,’ why ‘We don’t think that’s an issue,’ why ‘We’re not going to change the way we do business,’” Miller said in his remarks to WGA members at the Shrine. “And after all of that, we took a strike authorization vote and they changed the way they do business. They changed it because the members stood up and were willing to take on that fight."

“We have to stand in solidarity. There is no other way,” Miller continued. “The AMPTP can end this tomorrow, and we can all get back to work with a fair contract that you can accept that allows you to put bread on the table and a roof over your heads.”

IATSE Young Workers Power

WGA Chief Negotiator Ellen Stutzman (far left) joins Hollywood IATSE's Young Workers at Disney Studios.

When members of IATSE’s Hollywood Young Workers Committee (IHYWC) planned to join the picket lines, they wanted to make a statement. And nothing says “solidarity” quite like a giant sign designed by members of IATSE’s The Animation Guild and crafted by the union set painters and sign writers of Local 729.

“We want a big show of force,” said Nora Meek, a member of TAG as well as a member of the IATSE’s Hollywood Young Workers Committee. “We asked the captains if we could bring a huge sign and they said, ‘Yeah, and bring as many people as you want.'”

With Sign-zilla in tow, the IHYWC brought more than 40 members to the picket line at Disney Studios Monday.

“We all have different logos, so it can be hard to spot us sometimes.” Meek said, with a laugh. “We’re representing the young workers all across IATSE, all across Hollywood. We want to come out and support the WGA because your fight is our fight.”

LACDP Relocates Awards to Union Hotel

WGAW Board and Negotiating Committee Member Eric Haywood and Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Mark Gonzalez.
In a major act of solidarity, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) relocated its annual fundraiser, the JFK Awards, with over 500 attendees from Universal Studios Hollywood to the Loews Hollywood Hotel, a union hotel.

“We stand in strong solidarity with our family from the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW), which is on strike against all major studios, including NBC Universal," stated Party Chair Mark Gonzalez. "Democrats across the country join writers on the picket line.”

The LACDP joins President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, sending strong statements of support for striking writers and those in entertainment unions across the board for a fair wage and contract now.

WGAW Board Member and Negotiating Committee member Eric Haywood attended the event on behalf of the Guild to thank the LACDP, President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Yvonne Wheeler, and elected allies for relocating their event and standing with writers. 

Attendees included Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Congresswoman Judy Chu, among the many other representatives of government, labor, the community and business.

See Photos from Monday's Picket Lines

Anyone Here From Out of Town?

Sophie Smyth on the picket line at Paramount.

Supporters of the WGA strike are coming from far and near to join the picket lines in Los Angeles and New York. Here we meet the folks who are joining us from far away lands, whether a few states or a few continents away. Want to highlight an out-of-town visitor with an interesting story? Take a photo and send contact information to MBA 2023.

Sophie Smyth was wrapping up the CineStory Television Retreat in the mountains of Idyllwild when the WGA strike began. A native of Australia and a member of the Australian Writers’ Guild, Smyth planned to meet up with some friends in L.A. and maybe take a few meetings. But since the end of the retreat coincided with pencils down, meetings were out, so she joined the picket lines instead.

“Obviously we’re in full support of what’s happening here and what the writers are trying to do,” said Smyth, speaking from the picket line at Paramount and carrying a sign that reads “Support from Australia.” “I want to move to America and be in this industry, but I also want to be in an industry that pays its employees correctly.”

Although she had previously been to New York, Smythe’s visit was her first to Los Angeles and she reported that being part of the group of WGA supporters was inspiring.

“Within a couple of minutes, I had goosebumps,” she said. “This is a community and it’s important. It feels nice to be a part of something bigger.”