National Union Solidarity Day In NYC Draws Big Names Amid Big Crowd: Jesse Eisenberg, Carla Gugino, F. Murray Abraham & More

National Union Solidarity Day In NYC Draws Big Names Amid Big Crowd: Jesse Eisenberg, Carla Gugino, F. Murray Abraham & More

August 22, 2023

This is Day 113 of the WGA strike and Day 40 of the SAG-AFTRA strike

National Union Solidarity Day kicked off on Tuesday in New York City with several hundred marchers forming a picket line that stretched two full blocks outside the Manhattan corporate offices of Amazon and HBO. Striking writers and actors saw their ranks bolstered on Tuesday by unionized teachers, nurses, truckers, musicians, retail and hotel workers, and they got vocal encouragement from union chiefs who promised to have their backs.

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In what might be a sign of how long the WGA strike seems to have lasted, New York State Senator Jessica Ramos began her remarks with a reference to “the past 100 years” before checking herself to say “100 days,” a correction that drew laughs. “It felt like 100 years,” she clarified before moving on. 

“You’re the tip of the spear,” Charles Wowkanech, head of the million-member New Jersey AFL-CIO, told members of SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America in one of a handful of speeches delivered by bullhorn to picketers massed in the city’s Hudson Yards business corridor. More than once, speakers criticizing CEO practices inside and outside of the entertainment industry had to pause for lengthy horn blasts from a passing Teamsters semi painted in patriotic red, white and blue. 

Actors including Jesse Eisenberg, Morena Baccarin, Carla Gugino and F. Murray Abraham joined a demonstration that also featured union-themed karaoke, solidarity chants with drum circles and live music by a brass quintet from the New York Philharmonic. 

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Eisenberg told Deadline, “Everybody I talk to is obviously in support of the unions and in support of the strike, but everybody has different predictions” about when it might end. The Man of Steel actor and The Social Network Oscar nominee didn’t volunteer a prediction of his own, but his wife, Anna Strout, chimed in on his behalf, telling Deadline, “We’re excited to get back to work when our demands are met.”

They were joined on the picket line by Susan Pourfar, a Black Mirror alumna who also teaches at Voices of a People’s History, a high school theater project in New York inspired by historian Howard Zinn’s book about labor and other grassroots movements, A People’s History of the United States

Pourfar said the turnout on Tuesday by workers from multiple trades was a testament to history repeating, saying, “I think there’s a great longstanding tradition of solidarity between laborers, especially when we see this kind of corporate greed and it feels familiar.”

“You hear the honking?” she said over one horn blast. “That’s because everybody agrees that corporate greed has taken precedence over the work of laborers, the people that make things happen, the people that are the creators.”

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