Hollywood’s writers and actors are giving new energy and a prominent voice to the struggles of workers everywhere.
When I heard Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, make the case for her union members, I was moved.
Did you know that 87% of SAG-AFTRA union members don’t qualify for health insurance? How much do they have to make to qualify? $26,000 a year. In other words, only a select few top earners make big money. Everyone else is barely getting by. This is a working person’s struggle for rights, respect, and compensation.
And the lords of the entertainment universe are not pleased…
“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Actor, Ron Perlman, has a response.
Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Iger (who made $45.9 million in 2021) said, “There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic.”
What’s not realistic is the idea that income inequality will go unchallenged. It’s unrealistic to think that we “the people,” will continue to passively take whatever the corporations we support with our labor and our buying power dish out.
In her speech, Fran Drescher said:
It’s really important that this negotiation be covered, because the eyes of the world and particularly the eyes of labor are upon us. What happens here is important because what’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor by means of when employers make Wall Street and greed their priority, and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run.
Greed is a deadly disease. The good news is there’s a cure and the labor unions in this country have an outsized role to play in providing this cure.
“An entire system incentivized to exploit workers.” There’s nothing more American than that. Not when you consider that unpaid forced labor helped create countless American fortunes.
Tragically, the exploitation of workers of every race is woven into the fabric of this nation. You don’t need a degree in American history to know that American workers in meat-packing plants, in mines, and in garment factories (to name a few) have died in this struggle.
To highlight what Fran Drescher said in her rousing speech:
We stand in solidarity, in unprecedented unity. Our union and our sister unions and the unions around the world are standing by us, as well as other labor unions, because at some point the jig is up. You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalized and disrespected and dishonored.
This is a moment of truth and inside of this truth, we can more clearly see how wrong things have gone in our corporations, our branches of government, our schools, and our media. We can see how broken we are and what widespread corruption and malfeasance does to society.
American freedom is a point of honor, but how free are people who work themselves to the bone, who neglect their mental and physical well-being, and who shirk their responsibilities at home? How free are people who work all day and yet they can barely afford rent, utilities, food, or medicine?
America is the richest nation on earth, and in my lifetime, this wealth has grown exponentially, particularly since the dawn of digital. What I have yet to see is an attendant growth in generosity from those who benefit most (or any legislation to make them pay their fair share of taxes, at the very least).
Income disparity today is ugly and alarming. On average, CEOs today receive about 398 times the annual average salary of production and non-supervisory workers in their firms. It’s disgusting and wrong, and it’s time to turn this tide. It’s time for workers to unite and demand fairer treatment for all.