“New York is a union town, the queers are here to shut you down!”
The chant rang out loud and strong through Manhattan’s Union Square neighborhood on June 1, the first day of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, as striking members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and supporters picketed the New York office of streaming giant Netflix.
Hundreds of workers joined “Pride on the Picket Line,” many waving or wearing Trans Pride and Progress Pride rainbow flags as they carried picket signs. The turnout was so big, in fact, that pickets had to be set up on both sides of 19th Street.
Writers Guild members were joined by many members of sister union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), who may strike on July 1 if their own contract demands aren’t met by the media bosses. There were also contingents from UNITE HERE, the United Auto Workers, and other unions.
“Netflix screws writers and trans people,” one picketer told Struggle-La Lucha, referring to the company’s history of championing anti-trans “comedians” and canceling queer-friendly shows. “It’s time to pay up!”
Netflix and other streaming services have profited greatly by refusing to update labor provisions left over from the days when network and cable television predominated. This has meant an enormous loss of wages and job security for industry writers.
The actions of queer strikers and the LGBTQ+ community have been crucial to the Writers Guild strike, now in its second month – with actions like this one and the Trans Takeover in Los Angeles.
Fittingly for a union of professional writers, WGA picket signs were decorated with individualized slogans by the strikers: “Striking is gay in the best way;” “We’ve got BEEF with Netflix;” “We are not content;” “You’ll miss 100% of the shows we won’t write;” “I’m on strike for dykes who write;” “You’re a literal Disney villain – the villain is Disney;” and “Your AI’s got nothing on my childhood trauma.”
One striker’s sign summarized the feeling on the picket line: “Spoiler alert: We will win!”
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