The New York City Council Supports Fair Contract for Striking Actors and Writers

The New York City Council Supports Fair Contract for Striking Actors and Writers

The New York City Council’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor has taken a significant step in advocating for the fair treatment of striking actors and writers. Following a hearing, the committee unanimously passed a resolution in support of a fair contract, which will now be put to a vote by the full City Council. This resolution comes as both the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA have been on strike, demanding better working conditions and compensation from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) since May 2 and July 14, respectively.

The Council’s support for the striking actors and writers highlights the urgent need for fair compensation in the entertainment industry. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Dresher emphasized that the actors and writers want nothing more than what CEOs, who are making substantial fortunes, want for their own children. The livelihoods of these workers should not be undermined to boost shareholder satisfaction. This call for fair compensation reflects the Council’s recognition that the city’s workforce, including those in the entertainment sector, deserves to live a life of dignity.

The refusal of the AMPTP to negotiate the core proposals put forward by the WGA East threatens not only the livelihoods of writers but the entire industry and economy. Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East, emphasizes the importance of these proposals in enabling writers to build and sustain their careers. A thriving entertainment industry contributes significantly to the economy of New York City, and the reluctance of companies to address these issues poses a threat that must be addressed promptly. The Council recognizes this threat and expects the AMPTP to engage in good faith negotiations.

New York City takes great pride in being a union town and a hub for creators across various industries. Council member Carmen De La Rosa, a co-sponsor of the resolution, points out that the city’s workforce must be able to sustain a dignified life. Unfortunately, wages have remained stagnant while large companies continue to make substantial profits from the hard work of entertainment workers. The Council expects the AMPTP to approach negotiations with integrity, as the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people are at stake.

A Necessary but Painful Strike

The writers, who have already endured three months of striking, maintain that this action is a necessity. Their employers have consistently failed to provide fair compensation, despite enjoying record revenues and profits from their labor. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, the WGA East’s vice president of Film/Television/Streaming, emphasizes the gratitude of writers for the support of New York City’s elected leaders. The Council’s acknowledgment of their demands and willingness to take a stand for workers is a significant show of solidarity.

Rebecca Damon, executive director of SAG-AFTRA’s New York Locals, echoes the sentiment that this strike is fundamentally about fair wages and good working conditions. It is also about ensuring that actors have control over their own image and likeness, as well as the basic principles of compensation and consent. In a city that values fair wages and good working conditions, unions have historically played a crucial role in advocating for jobs that can sustain a living. The Council’s support underscores the importance of these values.

Industry Contribution to the Economy

The significance of the entertainment industry cannot be overlooked, with over 185,000 New Yorkers employed in the sector. This accounts for a substantial 6.5% of the city’s annual gross domestic product. The Council’s resolution reflects its recognition of the industry’s economic contribution and the need to protect the livelihoods of those working within it.

The New York City Council’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor’s resolution in support of a fair contract for striking actors and writers is a crucial step in ensuring the fair treatment of workers in the entertainment industry. By highlighting the need for fair compensation, addressing the threats to the industry and economy, and emphasizing the importance of unions, the Council has demonstrated its commitment to the well-being of its workforce and the overall strength of the industry. As the resolution moves to a vote by the full City Council, there is hope that the voices of striking actors and writers will be heard and their demands for fair treatment will be met.


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