After 3 Month Pause, Studios & WGA Returning to Bargaining Friday – Wabtec Sues UE – NBC Universal Forced to Reopen Sidewalk

Jack Black walks the picket line outside of Paramount (AP)

Folks, 

Greetings from the Burgh, where the wildfire smoke is once again returning. 

Please donate to help me pay for my asthma medicines. 

After 3 Month Pause, Studios & WGA to Return to Bargaining Friday

Earlier today, the Writers Guild announced that they had been contacted by the studio association AMPTP about coming back to the bargaining table this Friday for the first time in 3 months. 

The studios had not bargained with the union since May, when workers went on strike. Desperate for content for the Fall TV schedule, some studio executives are pushing for a deal. 

“The AMPTP, through Carol Lombardini, reached out to the WGA today and requested a meeting this Friday to discuss negotiations,” the Writers Guild said in an email to their members today. “We’ll be back in communication with you sometime after the meeting with further information. As we’ve said before, be wary of rumors. Whenever there is important news to share, you will hear it directly from us”. 

It’s still being determined if these talks will result in a deal. During the strike, the studios have gone on a higher spree for AI specialists, with some making as much as $ 1 million a year. Many union organizers worry that the studios are trying to beef up their AI capacity to put 

“It certainly appears like these are high-level strategic positions based on the kind of compensation that’s being offered for them,” SAG-AFTRA Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, told the LA Times. “In terms of a broader AI strategy or a focus on the use of generative AI, that’s not something that we’ve seen prior to now.”

With the studios arming up to replace writers and actors with AI, union leaders say they are prepared to stay out for as long as it takes. 

“We have financially prepared ourselves for the next six months. And we’re really in it to win it,” Fran Dresher told the Today Show. 

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

Wabtec Sues UE 

For over a month, over 1,400 UE locomotive workers have been on strike and picketing at Wabtec’s facility in Erie. Now, Wabtec is suing them and seeking an injunction against several hundred picket lines that clog the plant entrances. 

Unlike other unions that require their members to only walk the line for a few hours a week to receive strike benefits, UE requires its member to walk the line for 23 hours a week. The massive picket lines have been demoralizing to “scabs” attempting to cross the picket line at Wabtec. 

Now, Wabtec is suing and seeking an injunction to limit the size of the picket lines. The company claims the picket lines are “illegal intimidation” of scab employees. The UE has denied the claims. 

“The company can make what they want of it, but most of what is being claimed isn’t happening,” said UE Local 506 President Scott Slawson. “They are not wavering. I think this is a desperate ploy on the part of the company.”

For more, check out the Erie Times News. 

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Facing Repeated Physical Assaults, Over 200 Chicago Hospital Workers Strike 

At Loretto Hospital, over 200 Chicago hospitals are out on strike, demanding that they make $ 17 an hour. According to the union, the hospital has a staff turnover of 60%, leading to many workers being understaffed in dangerous situations.

“Recently we had an ER tech, a nurse and a public safety officer get beat up,” ER technician Wellington Thomas told the Chicago Sun-Times. “After we keep shedding a light on these incidents, management has not done anything about it. We’re sitting here and trying to push, and saying you need to make sure we’re staffed and protect us. Because guess what? Who’s going to protect us when management doesn’t?”

For more, check out the Chicago Sun-Times. 

NBCUniversal Partially Restores Sidewalk for Writers Guild, SAG-AFTRA Picketers

Finally, NBC Universal has received much criticism for blocking a sidewalk out of its headquarters, which had become a popular site for picketers. From the Hollywood Reporter: 

Two weeks after the Writers Guild of America and performers organization SAG-AFTRA filed mirror National Labor Relations Board grievances against NBCUniversal, claiming the studio had infringed on their members’ right to picket — as well as their safety — by obstructing the public sidewalk in front of their studio lot, the company has restored partial access along Lankershim Boulevard.

The changes — freshly poured asphalt and removed fencing — were revealed on Tuesday to marchers and uninvolved pedestrians alike in the hours before the two unions held a joint press conference and rally at the studio’s main entrance, at which they assailed NBCUniversal both for its perceived mulishness in the respective contractual negotiations that have led to the ongoing strikes and the sidewalk situation, which they find hazardous. During his speech at the event, WGA negotiating committee co-chair David A. Goodman said: “Our employers hate picketing. They really hate it. They really want us to go away. NBCU hated it so much they ripped up the fucking sidewalks.” (Studio construction work, which affected its Lankershim Boulevard boundary, began a week after the writer’s strike started in May.)

For more, check out the Hollywood Reporter. 

Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere

Alright, yinz, that’s all for today. Keep sending tips, story ideas, links, and cooking recipes to [email protected]  

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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]