L.A. City Council backs writers in labor dispute

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — The City Council approved a resolution June 30 urging Hollywood studios to return to the bargaining table with the striking Writers Guild of America.

With the strike now in its ninth week — and no word of negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, despite WGA calls for talks to resume — the council adopted the resolution on a 12-0 vote. Councilwoman Nithya Raman recused herself, as her husband is a WGA member, and Councilman Curren Price absent from the meeting.

Councilwomen Hugo Soto-Martinez and Katy Yaroslavsky, who each represent sections of Hollywood, introduced the resolution.

“This is a fight for the future of Hollywood,” said Soto-Martinez, who represents most of Hollywood, including the Netflix and Paramount studios, in his 13th District.

“As we hit day 60 of this strike, we can’t allow these big corporations to play games with the future of this industry and refuse to pay their workers a living wage.”

The WGA represents tens of thousands of Angelenos in the entertainment industry, but the changing business model of the industry toward streaming services has left many writers and workers underpaid and overworked, according to Soto-Martinez’s office.

“Writers are facing the largest assault on compensation and working conditions that they have seen in a generation, with other sectors of the industry like actors and stagehands also struggling to make ends meet,” according to a statement from Soto-Martinez’s office.

Yaroslavsky said the resolution “is a proud declaration of solidarity with working families across Los Angeles.”

“WGA writers, like all workers, deserve to be paid what they are worth, and they deserve dignity in their work,” said Yaroslavsky, whose 5th District includes Fox and CBS studios. “It’s past time the studios recognize that, come back to the table, and end this strike now.”

Councilman Bob Blumenfield agreed with his colleagues and urged the council to support the resolution unanimously.

About a dozen members of WGA attended the meeting and applauded the resolution.

Adam Conover, a writer and WGA member, said Los Angeles is a great city because artists can be paid fairly. However, in the past decade, he said, the companies that employed them “have gone to war with their own workforce, taking money out of our pockets and giving it to Wall Street and the CEOs.”

“That’s why we need the City Council to use its power on behalf of those workers and our workers,” Conover added. “It’s not enough to urge both sides to come together. We need the City Council to stand up on behalf of all workers and against the corporations that are trying to kill this city.”

The council’s action followed a June 6 motion by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to throw its support behind the WGA.

“The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unequivocally stands in solidarity with the WGA and believe their negotiation positions to be reasonable and necessary,” according to the motion by Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Kathryn Barger.

As a result of its vote, the board planned to send a letter signed by all five members to producers expressing their support of the WGA and urging the AMPTP to return to the bargaining table.

The AMPTP has downplayed some of the union’s demands, insisting that writers were given substantial bumps in streaming residuals under the last contract. Studios have also challenged the union’s demand on minimum numbers of writers on projects and work guarantees.

Since the WGA walked off the job on May 2, the AMPTP reached a new three-year contract with the Directors Guild of America while continuing to talk with SAG-AFTRA, which represents actors.

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