Employee Activism & Workers Rights

Employees have been taking their employers to task in 2022, with more organized and outspoken social movements, organizing and forming unions, and generally educating the other to a host of issues, including civil rights issues which have been negatively impacted following a slate of state laws and U.S. Supreme Court rulings of late. In specific, the ruling overturning Roe v. Wade in June spurned several studios to offer words of support to employees living and/or working in states where reproductive healthcare is at odds and abortions are severely restricted or unlawful. At the end of July, many workers including celebrities and content creators wrote an open letter calling out these same studios (i.e. their employers) requiring that they provide written clarification of abortion safety policies, procedures, and protocols. In response to a Twitter campaign using the hashtag, #BoycottHulu, Disney changed its stance on political advertisements to be in line with its other media outlets, issuing a statement, “Hulu will now accept candidate and issue advertisements covering a wide spectrum of policy positions, but reserves the right to request edits or alternative creative, in alignment with industry standards.” It seems now that AVOD Hulu will supply an additional territory for politicians on both sides of the campaign aisles.

In an industry that prides itself on its guilds and unions, their importance, and their service to communities, it seems to make sense that the institution created to memorialize the industry would be run by – union workers. That’s right, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures voluntarily recognized the Academy Museum Workers United (AMWU). The AMWU will unionize with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 36, which represents labor unions in museums and other nonprofit, cultural institutions in the United States. In general, the idea behind unions is that they allow members a voice over working conditions and creative professions. Any group who is interested in organizing only need enquire with the National Labor Relations Board to find out about submitting a formal request for voluntary recognition .

For example, Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers represents more than 250 employees in editorial, sales, publicity, design, legal and marketing departments at the Big Five publishers. Because they are unionized, they were able to authorize a one-day strike in July 2022 against HarperCollins to seek higher pay, improved family leave benefits, and a greater commitment to diversifying staff, in addition to stronger union protection. Finally, one of the biggest unions of all – SAG-AFTRA – will now open membership to intimacy coordinators. The union website provides a registry and pre-registry list for those meeting minimum standards of experience (60 days) and training. Intimacy coordinators provide a critical barrier between actors performing nude or otherwise sexually explicit scenes and the crew, who are there to capture it. Access and view the registry here.

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