You Can Support Writers And Actors On Strike — And Not By Canceling Netflix

Here are some ways writers and actors want the public to support them during the strikes.
SAG-AFTRA and WGA members walk the picket line outside Sunset Bronson Studios, home of Netflix, last week in Los Angeles.
SAG-AFTRA and WGA members walk the picket line outside Sunset Bronson Studios, home of Netflix, last week in Los Angeles.
Emma McIntyre via Getty Images

Hollywood is in the midst of a historic double strike: More than 160,000 film and TV performers in SAG-AFTRA and more than 11,500 film and TV writers in the Writers Guild of America East and West are on the picket lines until studio executives agree to a fair deal. They’re on strike over equitable pay and working conditions in the streaming era and guardrails around the use of artificial intelligence so that their work won’t be replaced by AI.

Many writers and actors see the strikes as an existential fight because their livelihoods and the future of Hollywood are at stake. And some of the major issues central to both strikes — corporate greed and the encroachment of AI — are applicable to many industries.

To support the writers and actors while they’re on strike, you might be wondering if, for instance, you shouldn’t buy tickets to a double feature of Barbie and Oppenheimer this weekend. Or maybe you’re considering canceling your Netflix, HBO or Hulu subscription to stick it to the studio and streaming executives who are making big bucks off the backs of writers and actors.

But the answer is an emphatic no. As of now, neither union has publicly called for a boycott of movies and TV shows. In fact, writers and actors have noted that it’s important for the public to continue supporting their work. Watching the shows and movies they worked hard to make is a way to demonstrate to studio executives that the work of writers and actors is not replaceable or interchangeable.

Instead, they have focused their attention on helping those directly affected by the strike. Below are some ways the unions have asked the public to demonstrate their support for the strikes.

Contributing To Strike Funds

The primary way to directly support workers is to contribute to strike funds. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA (which stands for Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) each have internal strike funds. In addition, members of the public can donate to the Entertainment Community Fund, which will directly help film and TV workers. There is a general fund, as well as a specific fund for workers who are known as support staff. These are people like assistants, who are often among the lowest paid and most vulnerable and exploited staffers on sets and in writers rooms. Many of them are also not union members, so they don’t have the protections of being in a union.

Since 2019, the organization Pay Up Hollywood has been advocating for better wages and working conditions for assistants, a common entry-level job in the entertainment industry. In a 2021 survey of assistants, nearly 80% of respondents said they were paid $50,000 or less in 2020, and 35% made less than $30,000. Both are below $53,600, considered the minimum livable salary in Los Angeles.

There’s also The Union Solidarity Fund, which benefits production crew members who are currently out of work. Throughout the more than two months of the writers strike, crew members have been instrumental in shutting down film and TV productions, standing in solidarity by not crossing picket lines.

TV writer and WGA strike captain Olga Lexell has compiled a list of a number of different funds here, including everything from grocery donations to ways to contribute food, water and other supplies for writers and actors on the picket lines.

Amplifying Writers’ And Actors’ Voices And Demands

On both SAG-AFTRA’s and WGA’s strike websites, the unions have urged people to listen to writers and actors directly, and to amplify their voices and demands on social media.

Each union’s site urges people to remind the major companies on the other side of the bargaining table – Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony – to reach a fair deal with the writers and actors.

Joining Picket Lines

Members of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA rally on a picket line at Rockefeller Center in New York last week.
Members of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA rally on a picket line at Rockefeller Center in New York last week.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press via Getty Images

You don’t have to be a SAG-AFTRA or WGA member to join a picket line or attend a rally. In fact, the unions welcome non-members to support them in solidarity.

If you happen to be in the US or are visiting, the SAG-AFTRA union schedule and WGA union schedule of daily picket locations are available online, and each group posts updates on social media.


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