EXCLUSIVE: Agencies, studios, networks and streamers across Hollywood will be playing school starting today as teachers in Los Angeles go on strike for the first time in 30 years.
Across the nation’s second largest school district, various plans are in place to offer “flexibility,” as one agency exec expressed, for employees now facing a Monday with children not in school as picket lines went up at 7:30 AM this wet LA morning.
“We have taken what I think are supportive steps to ensure UTA parents who need it can bring their kids to the office,” says the agency’s communications chief Seth Oster. “Setting up conference rooms, our theater and a range of spaces across our complex for children to spend the day comfortably so that UTA parents do not need to be concerned about how to handle this unfortunate situation if they are in need of options,” he added.
“If parents need to work from home we are providing that option also,” Oster pointed out, noting employees with infants or young children. “We are also providing a back-up, at home option for affected parents through a company called Bright Horizons,” the agency exec noted of the national child-care provider, which has centers on South Figueroa Street and in the UCLA Westwood area.
Fellow uberagency CAA have told their team that parents can work from home or elsewhere remotely if they need to or utilize flex time, we hear. WME have told staffers that they can work from home if they need to.
Vice producers Annapurna are allowing parents to bring their children into office or work from home too.
After nearly two years of talks, negotiations, talks between officials at the Los Angeles United School District and the United Teachers Los Angeles union have been frozen since Friday over issues of wages, the expansion of charter schools, class sizes and staffing levels. Approximately 30,000 UTLA members, including school nurses and librarians as well as teachers are off the job as of today with about 500,000 students affected. Charter and private schools in L.A. are not affected by the strike.
The LAUSD insists that the 863 schools and facilities in the district are still open and “instruction will be provided by qualified L.A. Unified staff,” including 400 recently hired substitute teachers. However, as one Guild member Tinseltowner told Deadline yesterday, “no way any kid of mine is crossing a picket line to get to school.” – a sentiment seemingly repeated across the industry heavy district.
Taking a similar approach to UTA, NBCUniversal’s Human Resources department have offered information on outside child care services to staffers over the teachers’ strike. Last week, as it looked like a strike was coming, Sony sent out a note to staff indicating that Bright Horizons services would be available for “eligible employees” with “back-up care for school-aged children through age 12.”
“As you may be aware, teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District have indicated that they intend to strike,” the Sony Pictures Entertainment HR email of January 10 stated. “Although the school districts are working on contingency plans, we understand that the strike may impact childcare arrangements for some of the parents at SPE,” the note adds. “Managing these potential impacts can be stressful, so we would like to encourage any SPE parent that anticipates being impacted by the strike to work proactively with their manager to discuss potential alternative work arrangements designed to balance appropriate childcare coverage with your work commitments, as necessary.”
With a follow up reminder emailed out last night, Fox sent out a similar if more colorful note last week too:
Fellow streamers Netflix and Hulu haven’t made their accommodations for staff known, but Amazon Studios have told employees that they “will be flexible in accommodating any needs” that arise out of the strike. Disney sent out an email this morning telling employees to contact their “leaders,” as the House of Mouse calls managers to make necessary arrangements to do what is best for their families. The options include bring children into the office for short periods of time, working from home or using sick days.
Warner Brother Television and the film studio haven’t set an official policy in regards to the fallout from the teachers’ strike but are working on an individual basis with staffers to make sure their children are taken care of while not attending school, we’ve learned.
No notion yet of how long the teachers’ strike could last as Hollywood gets ready for the Oscar nominations announcement next week and then Sundance. Yet, with the friction between the district and the union right now, don’t be surprised to see a lot of children accompanying their parents on the red carpet and Park City slopes as awards season heads into the final stretch.
Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva and Anthony Dalessandro contributed to this report