The performers of SAG-AFTRA and the writers of WGA were already feeling disgusted with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers; that’s why both unions are now on strike, fighting for fair work contracts. In Hollywood, the picket lines themselves have now become part of the battle.
Earlier today, Deadline followed up on a viral tweet pointing out that trees that had been providing much-needed shade to the WGA picket line in front of Universal had suddenly been trimmed. A Universal spokesperson told the trade that the maintenance was just a coincidence: “In partnership with licensed arborists, we have pruned these trees annually at this time of year to ensure that the canopies are light ahead of the high wind season. We support the WGA and SAG’s right to demonstrate, and are working to provide some shade coverage. We continue to openly communicate with the labor leaders on-site to work together during this time.”
The tree situation—which came during a scorching heat wave—dovetails with a related issue involving picket-line safety, this one regarding protecting striking workers from traffic. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the WGA today “filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board against NBCUniversal … the union claims the corporation is infringing its freedom to picket—and endangering its members—by obstructing the public sidewalk immediately abutting the studio during an ongoing construction project.” The complaint notes that “two picketers have already been struck by a car” as a result of this, and says Universal hasn’t provided barriers “to establish pedestrian walkways for picketers to use,” despite being advised to do so by the LAPD.
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