California Treasurer Fiona Ma has sent letters to the CEOs of seven Hollywood studios urging a return to the bargaining table with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA to end a months-long double strike that’s shut down much of the entertainment industry and is taking a major toll on the California economy.
“I write with deep concern regarding your failure to end the ongoing strike,” Ma said in letters dated Aug. 30 to Disney chief executive Bob Iger, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Netflix co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. Read her letter here.
With the Writers Guild and Screen Actors Guild on strike, “virtually all film and television production in this country has come to a full stop. The impact of these two strikes paralyzes Hollywood and reverberates across the state, affecting countless businesses, thousands of pension fund beneficiaries and millions of Californians,” Ma wrote, noting that entertainment and adjacent industries account for almost 20% of the Los Angeles area income and provide jobs to 700,000 in the state.
“Your failure to come to an agreement is threatening the industry’s ability to ensure that writing, acting and other positions are viewed as sustainable careers in California. Since the earliest days of the motion picture industry, workers across the entire production ecosystem…have supported an economic system vital to the economy of California. That system is now at significant risk,” she told the CEOs. Some 15,000 IATSE members have been out of work for months with production stopped, she said.
The hit from the current work stoppage has well eclipsed that of the 2007-2008 writer strike, which led to $2.1 billion in lost economic output. The cost of settling with the WGA this time around would pose “significantly less economic harm,” she said.
And writing in her capacity as a trustee of the nation’s two largest public pension funds, the California Public Employees Retirement System and California State Teachers Retirement System, Ma said she is “deeply concerned about the risk that the strike and its growing disruption poses to the long-term stability of the funds’ investments.”
A CalPERS spokesperson told Deadline in an emailed statement this week that the fund “monitors labor disputes and regularly discusses workforce practices and policies with its portfolio companies. We are engaging with some of our partners to better understand the impacts of these labor disputes and join others in looking forward to a resolution of this dispute.”
Ma’s call echoes a letter by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander earlier in August to CEOs Iger, Zaslav and Roberts. The Comptroller’s office is a custodian, investment advisor and trustee to the giant New York City retirement systems (NYCRS), which manages over $250 billion in assets for New York’s nearly 800,000 current and retired public sector workers and has substantial holdings in each of the three media congloms. Lander warned that the strikes “expose NYCRS’ investments to undue risk” and that “the underlying business practices which led to this conflict, if not resolved, may threaten the long-term stability of the NYCRS’ investments” in the companies.