Aug 8, 2023, 6:54am EDT

The growing scope of Hollywood’s labor crisis

Gabrielle and Rachel Newman, also known as the Newman twins, and other demonstrators attend SAG-AFTRA actors' and Writers Guild of America (WGA) writers' ongoing strike, outside Netflix offices in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 4, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Sign up for Semafor Media: Media’s essential read. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

Unionization efforts in the entertainment industry are expanding.

As writers and actors strike demanding better pay and over the role artificial intelligence could soon play in their industry, movements are growing for better compensation in other Hollywood niches.

We’ve collected insights you should read on the other unionization efforts in film and television.

Title icon


  • Visual effects workers with Marvel demanded union recognition from the studio. Fifty VFX employees at the studio signed union cards with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), and they’re hoping for an election before the end of this month. VFX workers have long been left out of the massive unions that represent workers across Hollywood, and Marvel, with its lengthy list of films and television series that rely heavily on visual effects, is seen as the industry’s biggest bully. — Vulture
  • In South Korea, actors with the Korea Broadcasting Actors Union are still waiting for streaming giant Netflix to acknowledge them. Netflix has a huge foothold in the country, where Squid Game, the streaming platform’s largest-ever hit, was produced. As in Hollywood, Korean actors are looking to be paid residuals for their appearances in Netflix productions. There’s also a massive pay discrepancy: While A-list actors might receive $400,000 per episode, supporting cast members might earn as little as $300. — Los Angeles Times
  • The WGA strike is marching closer to its 100-day mark. The previous strike, in 2007, was resolved after 93 days, and the 1988 strike after 154. But those strikes occurred at a more stable time in Hollywood, and with the growth of AI and the ubiquity of streaming services, the threat to writers and actors could be existential, Oliver Darcy writes in the newsletter Reliable Sources. “With no negotiating sessions on the books and with the relationship between the two sides defined by mud-slinging, don’t hold your breath hoping the situation will be resolved soon.” — CNN
Title icon

Know More

The writers’ union met with studio representatives on Friday, but made no ground in reaching a deal that would end the strike. Both camps have repeatedly accused the other of being unwilling to negotiate, Bloomberg notes, and have similarly avoided offering any concessions that might bring about at least some movement.