In what could be a preview of a threatened writers strike, WGA East members will be taking to the streets today in New York City as part of a nationwide protest against the Trump administration’s attacks on organized labor.
“Workers’ rights are under attack,” the guild says on its website. “We are standing up and fighting back! Join WGAE members and allies at the May Day rally. Wear your WGAE shirts or hats!”
Today’s May Day protests are expected to draw huge crowds in cities nationwide. Other entertainment industry unions taking part include Hollywood’s Teamsters Local 399, Hollywood’s Musicians Union Local 47, various IATSE locals, and the Hawaii local of SAG-AFTRA. In Los Angeles, the International Workers’ Rights Day March: Shut it Down Los Angeles, will begin with an 11 AM rally at MacArthur Park, followed by a march to City Hall.
“May Day is a day to honor those who have fought for the rights of all workers in the labor movement throughout history, as well as address the current threats to fellow workers and middle class families,” Teamsters Local 399 says on its website. “We will be joining the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, fellow Teamster locals, and other labor unions and community organizations to march on May 1st. We invite you to join us and ‘Shut it Down’ for workers’ rights on May 1st. We will be marching in solidarity with our sisters and brothers to take a stand against any and all attacks on working people.”
One of the many attacks organizers see on workers and their unions is a bill pending in Congress that would make every state a right-to-work state, where workers can opt out of unions and pay no dues but still receive all the benefits of a union contract. Union supporters call them free-loaders.
During the campaign last year, Donald Trump said he favors right-to-work laws. “I love the right to work,” he said in a radio interview. “It is better for the people. You are not paying the big fees to the unions. The unions get big fees. A lot of people don’t realize they have to pay a lot of fees. I am talking about the workers. They have to pay big fees to the union. I like it because it gives great flexibility to the people. It gives great flexibility to the companies.”
The WGA East has said that the real intent of right-to-work laws is to “wipe out” unions.