You Cannot Exist Without Us
This week, the Screen Actors Guild went on strike after negotiations with Hollywood studio executives broke down. SAG-AFTRA president Fran Descher delivered a fiery speech, which ended with:
“We are labor, and we stand tall, and we demand respect and to be honored for our contribution. You share the wealth because you cannot exist without us.”
SAG-AFTRA joins the Writers Guild of America, which has been on strike since May, in protest over proposed contracts with the studios. Dinsey CEO Bob Iger called the strike “disturbing” saying, “There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic.” Imagine having that perspective with a net worth of $690 million and scrutinizing people who are trying to earn the minimum $26,000 per year required to maintain health insurance through the guild.
I’ve watched the fight of workers over the past several years, starting with The Great Resignation. While carried out by individual employees, that period of time was a collective movement — a sweeping statement by people saying, “We don’t have to take this anymore. Treat us better, or we’ll go elsewhere.”
Companies clapped back hard, leading to mass layoffs as they tightened their grip and tried to instill fear. What may have started as a necessary move from venture capital-backed companies that overspent and overreached during the hypergrowth phase of 2020 and 2021 quickly became a domino effect. Companies like Meta and Microsoft that could clearly afford to retain their employees hopped on the bandwagon and cut tens of thousands of employees as a “cost-cutting measure” necessary to achieve the company’s goals.
Those goals? To maintain record profits.
The fight begins
I didn’t pay much attention to the fight of labor unions until 2011. If I’m being honest, it wasn’t an issue that was important to me… until it was thrust into the limelight in my home state of Wisconsin.
Then-governor Scott Walker proposed to strip public-sector unions of their collective bargaining rights, most notably the teachers’ union (yet public safety unions such as police and firefighters were exempt). Under the…