As she continues her globetrotting work on behalf of the more than 50,000 flight attendants within the union she leads, Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) President Sara Nelson brought a message of solidarity to striking WGA writers and SAG-AFTRA actors.
“This is a working-class fight, and we know which side we’re on,” said Nelson, who joined the Netflix picket Friday morning with more than 50 red shirt-wearing AFA members as well as her 13-year-old son, Jack. “If we’re not standing up for other workers and showing solidarity, then the corporate elite are going to continue attacking all of us," she said in an interview with Writers on the Line before addressing the crowd of picketers. "They’re going to try to take away our value and ultimately try to find ways to work us out of our jobs completely. So we’re out here with you because your fight is out fight.”
Having organized 85% of the commercial airline industry, the AFA is in the midst of a campaign along with Machinists and Teamsters to unionize Delta, the last of the legacy airlines without representation. Dubbed “America’s most powerful flight attendant” by the New York Times, Nelson has steered the AFA through multiple key legislative victories during her three terms as the union’s president.
The Washington D.C.-based Nelson travels both across the United States and internationally, meeting with workers across multiple industries. She characterized the strikes by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA as being part of a labor uprising.
“This idea that we’re divided as a country is total bunk,” she said. “If you come out here on the picket line, you’ll meet people from all different political ideologies, but that’s not the point. The point is that in this system of unchecked capitalism, if we don’t organize together and stand up for each other, we’ll have unchecked greed. That translates down to real people who can’t afford to live where they work or keep a roof over their heads.”
She continued her attack on the “corporate elite” during a fiery speech that drew sustained applause from the crowd.
“Flight attendants standing out here right now from Alaska Airlines and United Airlines haven’t seen an 8-hour day in a long time, but neither have the rest of workers across the country,” Nelson told the crowd.
“They have taken the things that we have fought for. They’re coming after Medicare, and it was unions who made that happen. They’re coming after social security, and it was unions who made that happen.”
“We are the check on capitalism that makes the country work,” she added. “We provide all the power.”
Additional Financial Support Resources
Looking for resources beyond the WGAW Strike Fund and Good and Welfare Loans? The Guild has compiled a list of external programs to help members find financial, food, and wellness support during the strike. Although we hope this list proves helpful during these trying times, the WGA is not responsible for any of these initiatives nor liable for any outcomes.
See the list. >>
Marching for the Humanity of Our Profession
Previous generations of writers walked the picket lines during past strikes so that current writers could enjoy a comfortable and sustainable living.
So every day that WGAW member Eddie Gorodetsky comes to the Warner Bros. picket line – which is practically every day – the Mom and Bob Hearts Abishola co-creator figures he’s paying that debt forward.
“This strike is not going to change my life as much as it’s going to change other people’s lives,” said Gorodetsky. “I’m here because this is affecting the next generation of writers and the generation after that. You want to give everyone a chance to get a leg up and have a reason to want to write, because writing is really hard.”
Gorodetsky started his career in the 1980s as a writer for SCTV, Late Night with David Letterman, and Saturday Night Live. In 1988, he was living in New York and had recently joined the Guild. He admits he was not particularly tuned in to the issues that sent the WGA to strike in 1988.
“But I did learn a sense of community,” said Gorodetsky. “Writing can be a solitary thing, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’m a failure. I don’t deserve to write.’ Then you meet and talk to other writers and you find that we all feel that way. On the picket lines today, you get that sense of community. This isn’t a party. We’re here for a reason, but you do get to meet other people and find out what drives them as writers.”
Gorodetsky routinely pickets at Warner Bros. because that studio has been the site of so many of the shows on which he wrote and produced for 20 years, including Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.
“I love being able to walk around here and feel like I'm part of history,” he said, “but now it feels like the business is taking over the show, and there’s no joy walking around a food court.”
Although he sees a future that involves the use of AI within film and TV, Gorodetsky hopes that the people who build that future are motivated by something other than big corporations reaching a given number of subscribers.
“You want to have humanity in art,” he said. “The humanity of writing is what this is all about.’