Members of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of America came to City Hall Tuesday afternoon to show that they are not giving up their fight against big studios and production houses.
SAG-AFTRA member Lou Pacheco used his talent as an opera singer to sing in Italian a selection from the opera Turandot in Italian to demonstrate that the unions aren’t giving up. “We shall be victorious,” Pacheco said as he finished the song.
“We’re not asking for much, we’re asking for what’s fair,” said actor and SAG-AFTRA member J.S. Williamson. He said workers need to take a stand for better wages and benefits this time around, especially for streaming services.
Williamson and others spoke of how background artists are underpaid and can’t reach the union threshold for health benefits. The workers are concerned that they will lose their jobs completely if their images are used and manipulated by computers via artificial intelligence.
The use of AI has also been a contentious issue for members of the Writers Guild of America, who have been out on strike longer than SAG-AFTRA. “If we don’t stem the tide of AI and corporate greed everyone, everything we hold dear will be washed away,” said WGA’s Shu Zang.
National president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Workers Lee Saunders joined workers at the Philly rally, urging those on strike to stay strong.
“The 1.4 million members of AFSCME across this country stand with you every single day until you have victory at hand, and you will have victory.”
Other local members of trade unions, including the stagehands attended the rally in a show of solidarity.
Mayor Jim Kenney made his second appearance at a union event in as many days to show his support. Kenney said he wants to see a fair end to the walkout so there will be some “quality television” to watch. The mayor said since the strike began, there has been nothing good on television.
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