For the first time in 60 years, writers and actors are on strike at the same time. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA are walking picket lines together as a result of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failing to provide either union a fair deal. The WGA went on strike on May 2, 2023, while SAG-AFTRA called a strike on July 13. For the duration of the strike, members of these unions cannot work with struck studios. One studio executive told Deadline that the goal, at least for the writers’ strike, is to let things “drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”
If you’re wondering how to best help striking writers and actors, well, so are we. In covering pop culture, our work at Nerdist has a close connection to the writers and actors, who, along with many talented crew members, bring the stories we analyze (and overanalyze!) to screens. We support the striking writers and actors in their requests for equitable treatment when it comes to residuals from the streaming model, addressing mini writers’ rooms, AI usage in regards to their work, and more. Both unions deserve fair deals.
But until AMPTP comes back to the negotiating table, and does so with less greed, striking writers and actors are out of work. Here’s what you can do to support them.
Many people have misconceptions about salaries for WGA and SAG-AFTRA members. One assumption people make about those who work in Hollywood and entertainment is that everyone gets paid well. They see the bloated salaries of CEOs and think similar numbers must apply to everyone in the industry—especially the people responsible for making the content that pays those CEO salaries. That is, unfortunately, not the case.
SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland has talked about how most of his guild’s 160,000 members are “working actors who are trying to make a living, pay their bills, pay their rent.” Guild members have to make $26,470 annually in order to be eligible for the union’s health plan. Only 12.7% of members qualify.
Those in the WGA have been increasingly affected by minimal residuals from streaming (as have actors) and the increased usage of mini writers’ rooms. One example is how, while working in The Bear season one writers’ room, writer Alex O’Keefe couldn’t heat his small Brooklyn apartment.
Share information from the unions and the affected members on whatever platforms you have available to you.
Should You Be Boycotting Anything?
At this time, the unions are focused on shutting down production for films and television. Neither union has called for boycotting content, whether that’s going to theaters or using streaming services. If you do decide to cancel any of your streaming services, letting the streamer know why doesn’t hurt. But again, that is not currently part of the striking unions’ strategies.
Join the Picket Lines
Walking a picket line day after day is a drag. This is especially true for WGA members who have been on strike for over two months. Everyone would rather be working. Instead, they are picketing every weekday, and currently, they are doing so in blazing temperatures. Showing up to picket lines with respect and enthusiasm is one way to support those on strike. Then, if you have any questions while you’re picketing, look for the strike captains at the location. Here’s the WGA picket schedule and the SAG-AFTRA picket schedule. Bonus if you can bring cold water and healthy snacks! I don’t think any picket line will say no to cold water or any beverage with electrolytes.
Do not do the work of a striking writer or actor. Scabbing is gross. Period.
Donate to Support the Community or Provide Supplies to Picket Lines
If you have funds and/or time, you can contribute to striking writers and actors in a number of ways.
Donate to Affected Workers
- Donate to the Entertainment Community Fund – This directly supports film and television workers.
- Donate to SAG-AFTRA’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program – This provides emergency financial aid to members with urgent needs because of the work stoppage.
- Donate to The Union Solidarity Coalition – This fund will help crew members in other unions who are affected by the strike.
- Give to the Green Envelope Grocery Aid – This provides grocery assistance to striking writers and actors.
Picket Line Support
- Join the Star Trek Snack Strike Squad – You can sign up with this fan-organized group and donate to water and food deliveries to LA area picket lines and/or help organize those deliveries. You don’t need to be located in LA.
- Donate to The Snacklist – This group raises funds to deliver snacks and water to LA-based picket lines.
- Donate to a registry – A number of picket locations have a wish list like this. To find one, look for designated strike captains on the picket lines or on social media to see a particular location has a registry.