NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The labor movement has racked up some big wins the past few months. On this holiday that honors the American worker, a new study shows increasing support for labor unions.
Summer 2023 is being called the summer of strikes.
“You had UPS and the teamsters early this summer. We’ve had the writers and the actors. UAW may be on strike here in the next week or so,” said Alyssa Hansen, communications & political director, TN AFL-CIO.
Hansen sees first-hand support for labor growing here in Tennessee, too. According to a new Gallup poll, 67% of Americans approve of labor unions – and that strength has only increased. Just five years, 19% said unions will get stronger in the future; today it’s 34%.
“I think COVID was really the driving force behind folks going, ‘I want more rights at work. I want to feel more valued and respected than I do right now,'” said Hansen.
“Workers know that when you belong to a union, you’re more likely to have things like higher wages, health insurance, safer work places,” said Hansen.
The weeks-long Hollywood strike continues. Gallup found Americans siding with the workers T.V. actors and writers, 67%, versus 24% favoring studio executives.
“As far as I know there is no movement on the strike right now,” said Michael Montgomery, president, SAG-AFTRA, Nashville Local.
Montgomery is optimistic that labor is having a moment right now in this country. But, he’s especially concerned about the Hollywood business model being broken as viewers switch from cable to streaming.
“So, our members now who work on a TV show, which would then go to cable, which would then pay them more money. That money is gone now. It’s going to streaming, which pays far less,” said Montgomery.
Although labor might be stronger in 2023 than it was a decade ago, Gallup finds it still pales in comparison to the post-WWII when union-approval reached a high of 75%, and pay gaps were smaller.
“We see huge wealth inequity at the top and bottom right now. It was much more even in the 1960s and 1970s,” said Montgomery.
Writer/Producer Rich Talarico, who splits his time between Nashville and LA, is running for WGA West president. He provided News 2 with a statement that reads in part, “Every human has the right to be treated with dignity in their work. The fight to end wage slavery will not be over until every worker has decent dignified work that pays a livable wage.”
Talarico is supporting a protest called the Entertainment Abstinence Campaign, which is a commitment to either reduce or abstain from watching TV and movies during the month of September in order to show solidarity with the artists and chip away at studio profits.