Union Town

Standing up for the Crew

Many Unions, One Fight rally draws thousands, including hundreds of WGAW members.

Photo by Dexter Kim

“This is what solidarity looks like!” became a rallying cry as speaker after speaker took the stage at Sunday’s inspiring Many Unions, One Fight rally. As they surveyed a stretch of Woodley Park packed with thousands of union members and their supporters, leaders from IATSE, the Teamsters, and Hollywood Basic Crafts lauded the support that will be critical to winning fair contracts in their upcoming negotiations with the AMPTP.

More than 1,000 people across multiple unions gathered at Woodley Park for the Many Crafts, One Fight rally. Photo by Dexter Kim.

“Everybody knows that if you work in production, this is what it looks like, working in the trenches together,” event co-MC and Teamsters Local 399 Principal Officer Lindsay Dougherty told the crowd, which included thousands of viewers watching the event via livestream. “We’ve all been through hell and back, and there’s only one way to go from here, and that’s up.”

“The timing of this, with Hollywood labor all together in a show of unity before we go into negotiations, has never been more important,” added IATSE Vice President Michael F. Miller, Jr., who shared MC duties with Dougherty. “We all came out on a Sunday morning to stand together in solidarity to drive home one message: nothing moves without the crew.”

Among the attendees were representatives from more than a dozen IATSE locals across the crafts. They were joined by members of Hollywood Basic Crafts including the Teamsters, LiUNA! Local 724, OPCMIA Local 755, and UA Local 78. For the first time since 1988, IATSE and the Hollywood Basic Crafts unions will bargain collaboratively on key contract provisions that address retirement and health benefits.

LiUNA! 724 Business Manager and Secretary-Treasurer Alex Aguilar Jr. said he observed the blueprint for this unity during a meeting at the Shrine Auditorium in May of 2023, at the start of the WGA strike when all of the craft unions came together to support the WGA.

“All of the unions hadn’t been in the same room together [before],” Aguilar said. “That day changed the landscape of Hollywood solidarity going forward.”

Even as writers, it’s hard to find the words to express the depth of our gratitude, but the best way is to say loudly and proudly that the WGA has your backs, and we will stand with you every step of the way in your fight.

- Michele Mulroney

According to representatives from IATSE and the Teamsters, priorities during the 2024 negotiations include higher wages, protections to health insurance, increased retirement benefits, protecting and preserving jobs against the threat of AI, and safety in the workplace. To learn more, visit the IATSE Basic Agreement website or Teamsters Local 399 website

Speakers at the rally also included representatives of the WGAW, SAG-AFTRA, DGA and AFM, all of whom negotiated their own contracts with the AMPTP over the last year. 

Fresh off its recently-achieved tentative agreement, AFM President Tino Gagliardi lauded his guild’s ability to get fixed residuals for subscriber-based video on demand and guard rails against AI threatening musicians’ jobs. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA victories helped pave the way for the AFM deal, Gagliardi said.  

In addition to their commitment to standing by their fellow guilds as bargaining unfolds, the union leaders reminded the IATSE-Hollywood Basic Crafts alliance to be ready for the AMPTP to return to its familiar playbook. 

WGA members at the Many Crafts, One Fight rally. Photo by Dexter Kim.

Or, as WGAW Vice President Michele Mulroney noted regarding the AMPTP, “we know what you did last summer.”

“Their stalling forced two unions out on strike, and then their months of stonewalling prolonged those strikes unnecessarily,” Mulroney said. “The AMPTP’s tactics didn’t work last year, and they’re not going to work now. What you’re asking for in these negotiations is fair. Don’t let anybody tell you you’re being unreasonable.”

Throughout the course of the 2023 strikes, the craft and crew unions turned out in force to support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, a fact that members of the two unions will never forget. Over 300 WGAW members and staff came to the rally to show their solidarity. 

“Even as writers, it’s hard to find the words to express the depth of our gratitude,” Mulroney said, “but the best way is to say loudly and proudly that the WGA has your backs, and we will stand with you every step of the way in your fight.”

During his remarks, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland was one of several speakers who emphasized that there is nothing “basic” about the work that the below-the-line crew members do. 

“Our members are inspired by the work you do to make an economic system strong that’s increasingly dominated by those who make nothing except for profits for shareholders,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “You build, you create, and you bring dreams into reality. That’s why our unions are so materially connected, and that’s one of the many reasons that you deserve a contract that reflects the value you bring to this business.”

Musicians from AFM 47 help kick off the rally. Photo by Jerry Jerome.

Coming off the “hot labor summer” of 2023 that also saw UNITE HERE hotel workers walk off their jobs in search of better working conditions, leaders from state and county labor organizations also pledged the support of their agencies. California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Yvonne Wheeler both pledged that the more than 2.3 million union members in California stand at the ready to help IATSE and Hollywood Basic Crafts emerge victorious. 

“My shirt says ‘STRIKES WORK’ because we saw that they worked last year,” Gonzalez said. “We had strikes up and down the state that showed employers and corporate interests that working people have had enough, and they’re willing to stand up, and push back, and it will save them a lot of time and money if they just negotiate a good contract.”

The rally concluded with remarks from international IATSE and Teamsters leaders. Noting the recent deal with UPS (which affects 340,000 members), International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien promised that the studio employers should expect a battle. 

“These employers are so successful because of men and women that go to work every single day behind the scenes, and, make it happen,” O’Brien said. “It’s time, brothers and sisters, to make them aware that if they thought they had a fight last summer, they can’t even predict what’s going to happen to them now.” 

IATSE President Matthew D. Loeb told the crowd that while the studios may have vast resources, they lack the power and conviction of multiple unions standing together in solidarity.

“The studio lots are empty without us, folks, and nothing moves,” said Loeb. “So we stand here together to demand fairness, to demand a living wage, a living wage for everybody who works in this business. There’s enough to go around.”

View the rally video on IATSE’s YouTube channel. 

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