SAG-AFTRA strikers rally in Boston for Labor Day

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New England actors with SAG-AFTRA returned to Boston in force for Labor Day — marching through Downtown Crossing with a full band and parade of labor allies.

“Our steps reverberate with the legacy of generations who fought for workers rights, reminding us that our struggle is a torch passed down through time,” said NEW England Local SAG-AFTRA President Andrea Lyman. “Let our presence here today be a testament: we are unyielding.”

Members of the striking union gathered Monday afternoon with other union allies and elected officials on the steps of Downtown Crossing, having marched through the streets from the Labor Day Breakfast.

Speakers echoed the union’s three major concerns: raising wages to match inflation, adjusting pay for residuals so actors get compensated fairly for streaming content and — with emphasis — establishing protections from AI uses of their likeness and threats to their jobs.

“This is very important — as you heard the congresswoman say, we are setting a precedent,” said SAG-AFTRA member Daniel Washington. “We are in an industry that when we have trouble, it’s truly televised. It is all over social media. Everybody sees it. And we are the first to put these gloves up against AI like this, right? That is super important.”

The union received avid support Monday from elected officials, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey.

“Last year, Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, he took home a whopping $27 million,” Warren said. “Just think about that for a minute. $27 million for 52 weeks of work. Meanwhile, nearly 90% of SAG-AFTRA members are scraping by on less than $27,000 a year.”

The politicians noted the importance of this moment and strike in the future of labor fights as technology, massive wealth gaps and other considerations rise, with Markey noting a “transitional point” and Pressley asserting an “inflection point in our history and paradigm shift.”

Union members emphasized repeatedly the importance of not giving in or “getting tired” and sticking with the fight as long as it takes.

“This gives me goosebumps,” said Michelle Proude, SAG-AFTRA Vice President of Mid-Sized Locals, indicating the crowd. “Because the strength that we hold in union solidarity is bigger than anyone really realizes. And every single time we come to an event where we get this kind of support it gives us the strength to fight one more day.”

Members of Sag-Aftra march down Stuart St as they rally on Labor Day in Boston,MA. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald (Monday,September 4, 2023).
Members of SAG-AFTRA march down Stuart Street as they rally on Labor Day. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)
City Councilor Julia Mejia and Senator Ed Markey dances in the street as musicians play during a Sag-Aftra march and rally on Labor Day in Boston,MA. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald (Monday,September 4, 2023).
City Councilor Julia Mejia and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey dance in the street as musicians play during the SAG-AFTRA march and rally. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)
Members of Sag-Aftra march past the Paramount Theatre as theyrally on Labor Day in Boston,MA. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald (Monday,September 4, 2023).
Members of SAG-AFTRA march past the Paramount Theatre. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

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