The WGA has come out in favor of a boycott of hotels in Santa Monica affiliated with the American Film Market.
Hospitalities union Unite Here Local 11 is in the midst of a labor dispute with several hotels, including the Le Meridien Delfina, the new headquarters of the AFM, which kicked off Oct. 31 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 5. On Wednesday, the union held protests outside multiple AFM-affiliated hotels calling on market attendees to boycott them. The union, which has been holding rolling strikes since the July 4th weekend, is calling for “a living wage” for its members to allow them to afford to live in Los Angeles amid rising inflation and soaring housing costs. Unite Here has also called out the Le Meridien Delfina and other hotels for allegedly using unhoused refugees to replace workers during the strikes.
The WGA, which last month signed a new deal with AMPTP, ending the second-longest strike in its history, sent an open letter to Jean Prewitt, CEO of the Independent Film and Television Association (IFTA), which runs AFM, calling for them to honor the hotel boycott.
“As writers who recently went on strike for 148 days, we call on AFM to do the right thing by honoring the workers’ boycott,” the letter, seen by The Hollywood Reporter, reads. “This means do not patronize, eat, gather, or sleep at these hotels until they have new contracts with living wages, and the unhoused refugees exploited by these hotels have the decent jobs and housing they need and deserve. Hotel workers will be picketing and likely be on strike at the hotels involved.”
The letter is signed by Meredith Stiehm, president of the Writers Guild of America West, WGA West vp Michele Mulroney and secretary-treasurer Betsy Thomas.
In a letter to Stiehm in response, Prewitt said the AFM was “no way a party to the Unite Here Local 11 dispute with the hotels and has no knowledge of the union’s allegations other than what has been reported by news outlets.” She writes that “cancellation or relocation” of the AFM “is not an option, as it would do serious financial harm to IFTA, AFM and our thousands of global constituents.” Prewitt noted that the AFM is “a long-standing event that supports the survival of the worldwide independent film industry, the economy of the City and of its many residents and workers. The six-day event produced by industry non-profit IFTA requires months of intricate organization and investment by IFTA and the participants themselves, who rely on the business done at AFM for their livelihood.”