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Predawn Picket Lines Help Writers Disrupt Studio Productions

The writers have disrupted other events as well. Netflix canceled a major in-person presentation for advertisers in New York amid concerns about demonstrations. The streaming company also canceled an appearance by Ted Sarandos, one of its co-chief executives, who was to be honored at the prestigious PEN America Literary Gala. A Boston University commencement address by David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, was interrupted by boos and chants of “Pay your writers!” from demonstrators and students.

While the makeshift picket lines have disrupted individual productions, it’s not clear that they’ve had much effect on the strike itself. Negotiations haven’t resumed since they broke down on May 1, and the industry is bracing for the possibility that the strike could last for months.

The writers contend that their wages have stagnated even though the major Hollywood studios have invested billions of dollars in recent years to build out their streaming services. The guild has described the dispute in stark terms, saying the “survival of writing as a profession is at stake.”

But production shutdowns are affecting not only the studios. Crews and other workers — like drivers, set designers, caterers — lose paychecks. And if the shutdowns accumulate and more people are unable to work, some wonder whether the writers will begin to erode the current good will from other workers.

Lindsay Dougherty is the lead organizer of Local 399, the Teamsters’ Los Angeles division, which represents more than 6,000 movie workers, from the truck drivers the writers are trying to turn away to casting directors, location managers and animal trainers. A second-generation Teamster, Ms. Dougherty is one of the union’s few female leaders. Her copious tattoos, including one of the former Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa, and her frequently profane speech have made her a bit of a celebrity to the writers during the strike.

And she said the solidarity with the writers remained strong.

“I think collectively, we’re all on the same page in that streaming has dramatically changed the industry,” Ms. Dougherty said in an interview. “And these tech companies that we’re bargaining with, during the last writers’ strike — Amazon, Apple, Netflix — they weren’t even part of the conversation.”

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Mohammad SHiblu

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