Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) delivered a fiery speech to television actors and writers on the picket line in New York City as the labor movement’s “hot labor summer” heats up with 160,000 television and film workers on strike.
“Your fight right here is what’s going to bust this thing wide open,” Ocasio-Cortez said into a megaphone, to cheers from the strikers. “We are in a hot labor summer right now.”
Striking workers in Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and Writers Guild of America (WGA) have been picketing in downtown Manhattan, some members since May, protesting sweeping changes to the industry over the past decades that have left actors and writers being paid pennies as studio executives rake in hundreds of millions of dollars.
The workers were joined on the picket line by Ocasio-Cortez and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler on Monday, who encouraged them to continue standing up against corporate greed.
“At the end of the day, we are all facing the same challenge, which is an unacceptable, unprecedented concentration of wealth and corporate greed in America. But we know that the way that we bust that up is by standing together in solidarity,” Ocasio-Cortez told the strikers. “The only way that we can do this is by showing them that we are stronger, that our solidarity is stronger than their greed.”
While the actors and writers are fighting for their own working conditions and wages, Ocasio-Cortez said, they’re also part of the labor movement’s fight for a better future for all workers. She invoked the fight of UPS workers, who the lawmaker has also joined in practice pickets and who are poised to go on strike starting August 1 if Teamsters and UPS can’t reach an agreement during the negotiations that are restarting this week.
“This is a fight against greed,” she said. “This is a fight against the endless pursuit of more wealth. How many private jets does David Zaslav need? For real. How many private jets do these CEOs need? It is insatiable. It is unacceptable. I do not know how any person can say ‘I need another $100 million before another person can have health care.’ Who does that?”
She concluded by reminding workers of their power.
“The only way that we can bust this up is by giving the people in charge a reality check by reminding them that, if they leave the job, life goes on. But if we leave the job, everything comes to halt,” the lawmaker said. “When things feel like they’re getting worse and worse and you don’t know what else to do, this is what we do. This right here is what we do.”
Actors and writers on the picket line also acknowledged the importance of unions’ current fight against corporate greed.
In an interview with Deadline on Monday, Actor F. Murray Abraham emphasized the necessity of workers’ rights. “Without a union there is no middle class,” Abraham told the publication. “And without a middle class there is no democracy.”
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