Unique: The Teamsters Union has been supporting the Writers Guild of America (WGA) for the past 75 days across Hollywood and writers have retaliated.
Deadline understands that a group of WGA members, around 50 writers, joined a picket line at an Amazon warehouse in Santa Clarita, California, to support Amazon drivers and dispatchers in their own dispute.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents more than 1M workers in the US, has been picketing Amazon warehouses across the US since June 24, including in California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Michigan.
The union has been fighting against low pay and dangerous working conditions and Teamsters Local 396 has been negotiating with Amazon’s delivery service partners and battle-tested strategies to recognize and honor the union contract since April. However, they say that Amazon engaged in unfair labor practices in violation of federal labor law, including terminating an entire unit of newly organized workers.
The Teamsters themselves have supported television and film writers over the past two months and refused to strike.
WGA member Chris Hazzard said the past few months have shown that LA is a union town and all employees are ready to support each other. “The WGA has received so much support from the Teamsters in particular that our membership was more than happy to support them in any way. Today he was helping out with Local 396,” he told Deadline.
“Since this strike began on June 24, these Amazon workers have been united in their quest for fair wages and safe jobs,” said Victor Mineros, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 396 in Los Angeles. “The community and fellow workers in this industry have consistently shown unwavering support, despite Amazon’s illegal refusal to recognize their union or engage in bargaining. Millions of Teamster members stand shoulder to shoulder with determination and support their brothers and sisters in the Amazon. Together, we are determined to hold this corporate criminal accountable for the treatment of our employees.”
WGA West board member Liz Alper said today was “a reminder that togetherness is much more than just a good feeling”.
“Saying you are with someone is taking your time, making yourself uncomfortable, to make someone’s life a little bit better. That’s what Teamsters are doing for us. That’s what we did for the Teamsters today,” he added.
Hazzard said the WGA’s fight has cross union support, as evidenced by today’s actors’ walkout. “To be able to help other locals in their fight for our membership, because even though what the WGA and SAG-AFTRA do is very different, at the end of the day what the team players When it comes to manual labour, what we all want is the same, everyone just wants a fair wage,” he said.
The fact that the Teamsters picket line was at an Amazon warehouse also highlighted the solidarity. “It is very clear that the delivery drivers are against the same company that is making the film [and TV] is a writer. Doesn’t look like it should be a unit,” Hazard said.
Alper said it was important to put the spotlight on Teamsters and other activists.
“We are a very privileged union, we have a very big platform, we have a very public platform and we are getting limelight which many unions in the city do not get. It is really important that sharing our solidarity also means sharing the spotlight, and making sure that the Teamsters’ fight against Amazon is well known as our fight,” she said.
It is the latest union the WGA has been supporting since coming out in support of hotel workers earlier this month. Thousands of workers, including cleaners, cooks and front desk staff, have gone on strike demanding pay hikes in what is a busy time for the hospitality sector ahead of the World Cup and Olympics.