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Two Hawai’i unions for writers and actors prepare to rally together

By Shelby Mattos

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — The Hawai’i unions of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and Writers Guild of America (WGA) are demanding higher wages at rallies scheduled throughout the week.

The public is invited to the following events on O’ahu this week to show support:

Monday 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Photo of union members at Magic Island (looking toward Diamond Head)

Tuesday 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Rally at the State Capitol

Wednesday 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Photo of union members at King Kamehameha Statue in front of the Supreme Court

A hui of local writers will be hosting a protest Friday outside Disney Studios in Burbank. Local filmmakers are expected to be in attendance.

“It’s not just me out of work and hurting, it’s the truck drivers, all the productions shooting here,” Aaron Kandell, a screenwriter for Moana said. “Live action Moana was coming, Lilo & Stitch got shut down halfway through production, NCIS, all the shows bringing in millions of dollars to workers here.”

More than 180,000 SAG-AFTRA and WGA members are on strike across the nation, demanding to be compensated more and respected for their work.

This is the first time that both actors and writers are on strike. The last strike happened 63 years ago when SAG and WGA worked together to receive healthcare, pension, and residuals.

“Hair, makeup, catering, local people supporting local families. They all can’t work,” Kandell said. “It affects not just hundreds of thousands of members in these two unions but millions working globally.”

Contrary to popular belief, a majority of actors and writers are paid daily or weekly rates — a rate that most are unable to make a living on.

“The majority of writers are just day rates, being squeezed by the same conglomerations that are compacting labor across the board,” Kandell said. “The average income for a Hollywood screenwriter is $69,000 a year. Compare that to the CEO of Disney, Bob Iger, he makes $75,000 a day.”

Aaron and Jordan Kandell said they made more working as part-time substitute teachers than selling their first screenplay.

Go to sagaftrastrike.org and wgacontract2023.org/strike-hub for more information and updates on events.

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