EXCLUSIVE: The Teamsters Union has supported the Writers Guild of America (WGA) for the past 75 days across Hollywood, and the scribes have returned the favor.
Deadline understands that a group of WGA members, about 50 writers, joined a picket line at an Amazon warehouse in Santa Clarita, California, to support the Amazon drivers and dispatchers in their own dispute.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents over 1 million workers in the United States, has been picketing Amazon warehouses across the United States since June 24, including locations in California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Michigan.
The union is fighting low wages and dangerous working conditions, and Teamsters Local 396 has been negotiating with Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner and Battle-Tested Strategies to recognize and honor the union contract since April. However, they say Amazon engaged in unfair labor practices in violation of federal labor law, including firing entire units of newly organized workers.
The Teamsters themselves have supported the TV and film writers for the past two months, refusing to cross the strike.
WGA member Chris Hazzard said the past few months have shown that LA is a union town and all workers are out to support each other. “The WGA has just received so much support from the Teamsters that our membership was very happy to support them in any way we can. Today it helped Local 396,” he told Deadline.
“Since this strike began on June 24, these Amazon workers have remained united in their pursuit of fair wages and safe jobs,” said Victor Mineros, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 396 in Los Angeles. “Despite Amazon’s illegal refusal to recognize their union or engage in negotiations, the community and workers in this industry have consistently shown unwavering support. Millions of Teamster members stand shoulder to shoulder, with firm resolve, supporting their brothers and sisters at Amazon. Together, we are resolute in holding this corporate criminal accountable for the treatment of their workers.”
WGA West board member Liz Alper said today was a “reminder that solidarity is so much more than just a good feeling”.
“Saying you’re with someone, taking your time, making yourself uncomfortable, to make someone’s life a little better. That’s what the Teamsters have done for us. That’s what we did for the Teamsters today,” she added.
Hazzard added that there has been cross-union support for the WGA fight, as evidenced by today’s walkout by the actors as well. “For our membership to be able to help one of the other locals with their fight, because even though what the WGA and SAG-AFTRA do are very different, in terms of the physical work that team players do, at the end of the day, what we want is pretty much the same, everybody just wants fair pay, he said.
The fact that the Teamsters’ picket line was at an Amazon warehouse also highlighted the solidarity. “It’s quite telling that delivery drivers are up against the same company that films [and TV] authors are. It doesn’t feel like it should be one entity,” Hazzard said.
Alper added that it was important to put the Teamsters and other workers in the spotlight.
“We are a very privileged union, we have a very big platform, we have a very public platform and we have been given the spotlight that many unions in the city do not get. It is very important that sharing our solidarity also means sharing the spotlight, and make sure the Teamsters fight against Amazon is as well known as our fight,” she said.
It’s the latest union the WGA has backed after coming out for hotel workers earlier this month. Thousands of workers including cleaners, cooks and reception staff have gone on strike to demand pay rises, which comes ahead of the arrival of the World Cup and Olympics, a busy time for the hospitality sector.