Biden Backs Striking Actors and Writers

President Biden expressed his support for striking Hollywood actors and writers through a White House spokesperson on Monday.

“The president believes all workers, including the writers, including the actors, they deserve fair pay. And they deserve fair benefits,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking for Biden, said Monday when asked about the strike at a press briefing.

“We sincerely hope that both actors and writers strikes get resolved, and that the parties come together and have a mutually beneficial agreement as soon as possible.”

The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May, and actors represented by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists joined them on the picket lines last week, grinding Hollywood to a near-total halt.

It was the first time both actors and writers have been on strike since 1960, when another president — Ronald Reagan — represented actors in his capacity as SAG’s leader at the time — two decades before he was elected president.

Biden, a longtime supporter of organized labor, expressed support for the writers in May, and the White House released a statement of support for the actors a day after SAG-AFTRA called a strike.

What Does Biden Support Here? What Do Striking Actors and Writers Want?

Actors and writers are striking over a range of issues involving the changing ways we consume entertainment. In addition to better wages, they want changes to streaming revenue sharing and safeguards around the use of artificial intelligence in the entertainment industry. Here is a list of the WGA’s demands, and here are SAG-AFTRA’s.

In response to the 160,000-member SAG-AFTRA going on strike last week, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, aka AMPTP, released said it had offered “historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses for SAG-AFTRA members.”

The group represents Amazon/MGM, Apple, Disney/ABC/Fox, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount/CBS, Sony, Warner Bros. Discovery (HBO), and others.

“A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life. The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry,” the AMPTP said.

SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, however, said the AMPTP “remains unwilling to offer a fair deal on key issues essential to protecting the livelihoods of working actors and performers.”

Also Read: Joe Biden’s Favorite Movie Is About Tight Races

And SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher delivered an impassioned speech Thursday about the decision to walk.

“I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things, how they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history,” Drescher said.

Though the strike has shut down production by the major studios, SAG-AFTRA has worked quickly to authorize waivers for truly independent productions.

“We put the application process up on the first day of the strike,” Deadline quoted Crabtree-Ireland as saying. “And we’ve already got hundreds of applications … we will be responding to all of them,” he added.

It takes time, however, to ensure that projects are truly independent. Because as Christopher Kyle, the secretary-treasurer of the WGA-East, told MovieMaker in May, studios are “constantly creating new LLCs and organizations,” and it’s essential to make sure seemingly independent projects aren’t backed by major studios. A list of struck companies is here.