Strike Solidarity: WGA Turns Out For Teamsters Picket Line At Amazon In Santa Clarita
EXCLUSIVE: The Teamsters Union has been supporting the Writers Guild of America (WGA) for the last 75 days across Hollywood and the scribes have returned the favor.
Deadline understands that a group of WGA members, around 50 writers, joined a picket line at an Amazon warehouse in Santa Clarita, California, to support the Amazon drivers and dispatchers in their own dispute.
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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represent over 1M workers in the U.S. have been picketing Amazon warehouses across the U.S. since June 24 including at locations in California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Michigan.
The union is fighting against low pay and dangerous working conditions and the Teamsters Local 396 have been bargaining with Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner and Battle-Tested Strategies to recognize and honor the union contract since April. However, they say that Amazon has engaged in unfair labor practices in violation of federal labor law, including terminating the entire unit of newly organized workers.
The Teamsters, themselves, have supported the television and film writers over the past two months, refusing to cross picket lines.
WGA member Chris Hazzard said that the last few months have shown that LA is a union town and all workers are out to support each other. “The WGA specifically has just received so much support from the Teamsters, that our membership was very happy to support them in any way we can. Today that was helping local 396,” he told Deadline.
“Since this strike started on June 24, these Amazon workers have remained united in pursuit of fair pay and safe jobs,” said Victor Mineros, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 396 in Los Angeles. “Despite Amazon’s illegal refusal to recognize their union or engage in bargaining, the community and fellow workers in this industry have consistently shown unwavering support. Millions of Teamster members stand shoulder to shoulder, with firm resolve, supporting their brothers and sisters at Amazon. Together, we are resolute in holding this corporate criminal accountable for its treatment of their workers.”
WGA West board member Liz Alper said that today was a “reminder that solidarity is so much more than just a good feeling”.
“Saying that you’re with somebody, it’s taking your time, it’s making yourself uncomfortable, in order to make somebody’s life a little bit better. That’s what the Teamsters have been doing for us. That’s what we did for the Teamsters today,” she added.
Hazzard added that there’s been cross union support for the WGA fight, as evidenced by today’s walkout by the actors as well. “For our membership to be able to help one of the other locals with their fight, because even though what the WGA and SAG-AFTRA do is very different, as far as the physical labor that teamsters are doing, at the end of the day, what we want is all kind of the same, everybody just wants fair wages,” he said.
The fact that the Teamsters picket line was at an Amazon warehouse also highlighted the solidarity. “It’s pretty telling that delivery drivers are up against the same company that film [and TV] writers are. It doesn’t feel like that should be one entity,” said Hazzard.
Alper added that putting the Teamsters and other workers in the spotlight was important.
“We’re a very privileged Union, we have a very large platform, we have a very public platform and we’ve been getting the spotlight that a lot of unions in town don’t get. It’s really important that sharing our solidarity also means sharing the spotlight, and making sure that the Teamsters fight against Amazon is as well known as our fight,” she said.
It is the latest union that the WGA has been supporting after coming out for hotel workers earlier this month. Thousands of workers including cleaners, cooks and front desk staff have gone on strike to demand wage increases, which comes ahead of the arrival of the World Cup and Olympics, a busy time for the hospitality sector.
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