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Image courtesy of SAG-AFTRA.

EDITORIAL: SAG & WAG strikes remind power of unionization

EDITOR'S NOTE: A prior version of this article was left unlisted as an editorial, it has since been revised to reflect that this is an editorial. 

It was just announced that the SAG-AFTRA union has gone on strike. This follows the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, which has lasted now over 70 days, according to the New York Times. This massive labor strike should serve as a reminder of the power of a labor movement and the treatment people deserve in employment.

The last time writers and actors both went on strike was in the 1960s, when unions were at their peak in the 1950s; one-third of the labor force was unionized. Currently, amidst nationwide unionization movements, coverage of unions has been on the rise. In 2022, the number of people represented by a union grew by approximately 200,000, according to NPR.

While the overall union membership rate has dropped, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the writers and actors strike provides an opportunity for the nation to witness – on a large scale – what labor organizing can mean. The strike can serve as an incredibly powerful tool for others who might want to organize their workspaces.

Laborers have to work against a system that was not set up to support them while simply working to earn a fair wage in fair conditions. Alternatively, employers often face little repercussions for breaking the law, according to Street Roots, and have spent $340 million annually on union busting in 2019.

While employees face fear of retaliation, their employers have little to lose. The process of unionization is not in favor of the unions, yet the writers and actors shut down Hollywood because of the power of a strike.

The impacts of this strike will be felt in New Mexico’s growing film industry. With productions already shutting down, non-actors and writers who work on a production will also be impacted, according to the Santa Fe Reporter. When announcing the strike, SAG did not take their decision lightly; they are well aware of the power they hold.

Not only are productions shutting down, but all press for any movies has also stopped. The cast of “Oppenheimer” walked out of the premiere as the strike began. Moving forward, actors will not be allowed to attend red carpet events.

This is not the only massive strike the nation is on the precipice of. The UPS union voted 97% in favor of a strike in June, and contract negotiations have recently come to a halt over securing adequate pay for part-time employees. If they are to strike, it would be the largest against a single corporation in U.S. history, according to NPR.

The power the labor movement holds when united is undeniable, but change should be made to allow for easier unionization. Large-scale union movements like this have not been seen since the ‘50s. This could be a defining moment for the future of labor organizing as strikes build upon the ongoing labor movement.

Maddie Pukite is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at on Twitter @maddogpukite

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Maddie Pukite

Maddie Pukite is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at on Twitter @maddogpukite 

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