67% of Americans support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes

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Barbenheimer Summer has been huge, a real victory for theaters that never fully bounced back post-pandemic. But Hot Labor Summer still marches on! I think the studios were hoping that the success of Barbenheimer would bolster their case somehow, in that maybe it would make the public realize they didn’t want to wait for more new movies? If so, that hope is dead, as polling group Data for Progress just released numbers that all favor the unions. From Variety:

Pro-strike, despite the delay in new content: A large majority of Americans support the writers and actors strike, and a plurality hold an unfavorable view of the Hollywood studios, according to a new poll by Data for Progress. The poll found 67% support among likely voters for the strikes by the Writers Guild of American and SAG-AFTRA, while just 18% opposed them. The poll also found that 48% have an unfavorable view of the major studios, and just 31% support the studios… The firm also asked strike supporters if delays in their favorite movies and TV shows would cause them to change their minds. The survey found that 86% would continue to support the strikes, while 10% would oppose them.

People understand why the unions are striking: The respondents gave mixed answers when asked the primary reason for the two strikes, with 33% citing fair compensation for streaming shows, another 33% citing pay and benefits, and 16% answering protections from artificial intelligence. The survey found 85% support for SAG-AFTRA’s position that actors should get consent and fair compensation for any use of their likeness by AI. The survey also found that 74% believe studios should be barred from replacing writers with AI.

AFL-CIO speaks: In a statement, Liz Shuler, the president of the AFL-CIO, said that the results confirm broad national support for the striking unions and the importance of AI across industries. “Voters understand that this isn’t just about one industry — this is about all of us — and unions need to have a seat at the table to take on the existential threat AI poses to our livelihoods and economy,” Shuler said.

SAG-AFTRA speaks: Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the executive director of SAG-AFTRA, said in a statement that the poll shows Americans understand the reasons for the strike. “I suspect many are seeing the same dynamic playing out in their own lives, with employers undervaluing their contributions,” he said. “That’s why this fight is so important. Our demands aren’t unreasonable, and it’s a fundamental principle of fairness that workers should be fairly compensated for the value they bring their employer — in every industry.”

WGA speaks: Lowell Peterson, the executive director of WGA East, concurred. “Everyone who works for a living understands what it’s like to get squeezed economically, to face threats from disruptive technology like AI, to try to hold one’s own against huge corporations motivated by their own profit rather than their employees’ well-being,” Peterson said.

[From Variety]

The ambassadors/coordinators/communicators for the striking unions have been doing such a good job at getting their messaging out. I’m low-key starting to wonder if it’s the same people behind the Barbie marketing, it’s been that good. Based on these polls, it’s clear the public understands what the unions are fighting for and overwhelmingly support them. While it’s one thing to be pro-strike in the abstract, the fact that 86% said they still support the strikes even though it means a delay in new film & tv content, that’s a big PR win. Then to have all the union leaders (including my favorite, golden-named Duncan Crabtree-Ireland!) hammer home the point that this moment matters for all unions, not just tinseltown… you guys, I’m kvelling. As a lifelong democrat who’s watched her team make a habit of bungling the messaging of good policies time and time and time and time again, I’m nearly crying with joy at watching it all be carried out so well. And I’ll be holding on to this euphoria as we enter what I’m calling Tepid Film Festival Fall.

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12 Responses to “67% of Americans support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I think social media has been really crucial here and has allowed the striking actors/writers to get their point across very clearly. I also think the success of Suits on Netflix has helped a great deal because then we have quotes from some of the writers on that show saying how little they are earning from the BILLIONS of minutes streamed. Taking shows like that out of syndication and putting them on streaming exclusively really kill residuals and the writers/actors are making sure people understand that.

    I also do think Barbieheimer helped – people remembered the value of original writing and storytelling and we want more of that, not less.

    • SarahCS says:

      Yes to all of these points, the real world examples actors have been sharing has played a huge role in getting the message across and there has been excellent coordination of who is on the picket lines, announcing who has made donations, etc.

      The studios have allowed their greed to cloud their judgement and with that they very much mis-read the mood of the wider public. Fairness and being able to put food on the table and a roof over your head resonates with people. Funny that.

      • Deering24 says:

        The Democrats should ASAP hire whomever 1) did the Barbieheimer campaign and/or 2) is getting the union message out. The latter marketing has made the crucial connection that the unions’ struggle is everyone’s struggle, not just some “pampered celebrities.” If average industry workers can’t afford to feed their families, how do the studios expect average people out here to afford their movies? Have never understood this business-school-run-amok logic.

  2. ThatsNotOkay says:

    AI, by its very nature, cannot generate fresh, original content. All it can do is regurgitate a variation of what has been done before. That’s never been something I’ve been interested in consuming. I hope people return to appreciating entertainment as more art than product and move forward.

    • lgt says:

      Yes! I’ve seen it said that AI should not be named “artificial intelligence” but rather “Plagiarism Software.”

  3. Moira's Rose's Garden says:

    It’s about time that people are getting that unions are crucial! In addition to the messaging, Zashat …er Zaslav is doing his part to help the effort–cancelling successful programming with women and/or non-white leads, trying to get rid of the heads of TCM, and demolishing historic sets such as Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, but relocating the Friends fountain (because of course.)

    I will miss new programming but will make due until the creatives who do 99% of the work and get miniscule pay are paid what they’re worth.

  4. Concern Fae says:

    As someone on Twitter said – 10,000 professional storytellers and 150,000 of the most beautiful people in the world are going to be able to get their message across

  5. Sarah says:

    The wait for new shows is unlikely to bother too many people unless it goes on for months or years. There is so much on the different platforms and I never know when new seasons are being released anyway. 😄

    • Twin Falls says:

      There is so much I haven’t seen yet. I just watched Secret Invasion with SLJ because I read the CB article yesterday. (Loved it)

      Many of us are feeling squeezed. I see myself in the striking workers and I doubt I’m alone in that. Definitely good on their messaging for connecting their struggle with what people are going through outside the entertainment industry.

      • Deering24 says:

        Seriously, I’m so behind on TV watching it’s hopeless. I must be the only person in the world who hasn’t seen Succession or Euphoria (though I’ve caught bits of GOT.) There are so many good overseas TV shows out there, one could easily get behind on the American ones.

  6. AprilUnderwater says:

    I grew up with parents heavily involved in the union movement (Australia – my dad was a baggage handler who rose up through the ranks of his union, eventually being tapped for politics and becoming the gentlest and most generous backbencher ever). He died in 2021 with almost nothing to his name because he was so quick to give to anyone who was in need.

    I miss him so much; he would have loved to have seen this.