160,000 SAG-AFTRA Members Could Strike July 12th – UPS Refuses Teamsters’ Demand for “Last, Best, & Final Offer” – Melk’s Summer Vacation Plans Cancelled

(Courtesy: The Writers Guld)

Folks, 

Greetings from Carrboro, North Carolina, where I am staying at a reader’s house while covering public sector unionization in the state. However, I recently received some rough news about my trip.

Magazine Kills Melk’s $1,000 Story – Leaving Me Out $700 & Cancelling Vacation Plans.

Earlier this summer, a magazine commissioned me $1,000 to write an article about the resurgence of public sector unionism in the South. I plan to use the money to afford a summer vacation, which seems out-of-reach for me every summer. 

After making travel arrangements, finding lodging, and conducting interviews, I found out that the assigned editor had left the magazine, and the new editor was killing my story before I even was able to show him a couple of the draft. (Only the third time in my 15-year journalism career that a freelance story has been killed).

While I expected to be paid $1,000 for my work and full travel reimbursement, I was informed that I would receive only a $300 fee and $100 travel reimbursement. The arbitrary and unfair decision left me out more than $700 that I expected to spend on a much-needed vacation later this summer. My summer vacation is in jeopardy, and I need your help to save my summer vacation.

Donate to help a broke labor reporter afford a summer vacation. Please, sign up as one of our 753 recurring donors today. 

UPS Refuses Teamsters’ Demand for “Last, Best, & Final Offer”

Today, across the country, Teamsters went on “practice” picket lines to prepare for a strike of 380,000 UPS drivers that could begin as early as July 31st. 

On Wednesday, the union said it was disappointed that UPS was digging in, and refusing to offer more on wages at the bargaining table. 

“This multibillion-dollar corporation has plenty to give American workers — they just don’t want to,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien in a statement. “UPS had a choice to make, and they have clearly chosen to go down the wrong road.”

For more on the state of talks, check out CNN.

160,000 SAG-AFTRA Members Could Strike Next Week 

Over 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members could go on strike next week on July 12th. Already, the union has written to its members and asked them to prepare to go on strike. 

In the last 6 of 7 Writers’ Guild strikes, the writers have gone out on strike without the support of actors. Now, More than 1,000 actors have signed an open letter pushing the union to stand in solidarity with the writers and not settle for a weak deal. 

“This is not a moment to meet in the middle, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the eyes of history are on all of us,” the actors wrote. “We ask that you push for all the change we need and protections we deserve and make history doing it. If you are not able to get all the way there, we ask that you use the power given to you by us, the membership, and join the WGA on the picket lines”. 

Stars including Glenn Close, Jennifer Lawrence, Mark Ruffalo, Meryl Streep, and Ben Stiller signed the letter. 

For more on the latest state of negotiations, check out Deadline. 

Requests for Aid from Hollywood Workers Have Tripled during the Strike 

The Entertainment Community Fund reports that requests for emergency financial assistance for writers have tripled during the strike. The fund finds that strikers need assistance far earlier than previous strikes. From The Hollywood Reporter: 

In May 2023, just over three years after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a standstill and put many out of work, “we started off right away with people immediately needing help,” McNutt says. “And I think that’s pretty telling about the financial situation people are facing.”

Emergency financial assistance has been the most requested resource since May 2, with mental health services coming in second, says McNutt. To meet the demand, the fund has reallocated staffers who don’t normally work on grants to expedite the financial assistance process and has highlighted workshops focused on helping industry workers cope with anxiety, focus on financial wellness during a work stoppage, and find a job during a strike.

In the past few months, major crew union IATSE and the Pay Up Hollywood group, which is dedicated to industry support staffers like assistants, have announced they are setting up financial assistance funds with The Entertainment Community Fund. Overall, the fund has also received an uptick in donations during the strike, with $3.6 million raised so far (some of which has come from WGA heavyweights like Shonda Rhimes, J.J. Abrams, and Adam McKay) to help fund the services. “And we expect to spend every penny of that on financial assistance in these coming months,” McNutt says.

For more, check out Hollywood Reporter. 

Employers Report Immigrant Workers Fleeing Florida 

Finally, with a new restrictive immigration policy set to go into effect this month in Florida, employers across the state are reporting that immigrants are fleeing in masse. Instead, immigrants are moving to the North, where wages are lower and immigration laws less restrictive. From the Wall Street Journal:

Outside one construction site, a worker said that he had lost about half his crew. They went to Indiana, he said, where jobs are paying $38 an hour instead of $25, and where they won’t have to look over their shoulders. 

Among the projects is the 1.4 million square foot mixed-use building called Block 55, being built by Coastal Construction. Murphy said there was already a labor shortage before the exodus. 

“While we fully support documentation of the immigrant workforce, the new law is aggravating an already trying situation,” he said. 

For more, check out the Wall Street Journal. 

News & Links Elsewhere 

Alright, folks, that’s all for today. 

Donate to help a broke labor reporter afford a summer vacation. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 751 recurring donors today. 

Keep sending tips, story ideas, and complaints to [email protected] 

See yinz tomorrow,

Melk

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]