In today’s News and Commentary, the WGA strike enters its second week, an NLRB judge has painted the Blue Man Group as labor law violators, and the Teamsters are taking on Amazon.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) enters the second week of its first strike in 15 years today. As Maddie, Peter, and Iman covered last week, the WGA’s 11,500 writers are striking for control over whether (and, if so, how) AI is used to write material, restructuring of compensation contracts, job security, and access to set. The striking writers are particularly focused upon streaming’s impact on writer pay, and have emphasized that global streaming services have deprived them of residual payments, which writers in eras past earned when a show was licensed into syndication or through DVD sales. At the moment, there are no negotiations scheduled between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which bargains on behalf of studios. That being said, the WGA strikers are winning in the court of public opinion: solidarity has blanketed social media with the help of amplification by star strike participants and allies. Meanwhile, the studios will begin contract renewal negotiations with the Directors Guild of America (DGA)—whose contract expires on June 30—on Wednesday, despite the DGA’s apparent original commitment not to negotiate with the AMPTP before the WGA does.
Stars’ outpouring of support for the WGA strike stands in stark contrast with another showbiz-related labor dispute that came to a resolution last week: An NLRB judge has found that the Blue Man Group’s New York City “Blue School” violated the NLRA by refusing to recognize its employees’ union.
Finally, the Teamsters have filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Amazon in a case that will test the joint employer doctrine. At the end of April, delivery service workers at Battle-Tested Strategies (BTS) in Palmdale, California—an Amazon subcontractor—ratified a union contract with Teamsters Local 396 and BTS. In response, Amazon has retaliated against the workers and BTS. BTS owner Johnathon Ervin claims that Amazon has punished him for supporting the workers’ union drive, and that in so doing Amazon has clearly established itself as a joint (or maybe even single) employer of the drivers. Ervin noted that Amazon retains “complete control over Amazon systems and hiring and firing of drivers. But what we see now are retaliatory tactics like the grounding of our vehicles, calling security, those types of things.” The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will now confront the complaint.
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