Organized by the Union Solidarity Coalition, the auction will support workers at risk of losing healthcare.
The SAG-AFTRA strike has been going on for more than two months. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) have been on strike since July 14, demanding equitable pay. The strike also joined the Writers Guild of America, which is a union representing thousands of Hollywood writers. The WGA hasn’t worked since early May, making it the industry’s biggest shutdown in more than six decades.
As many crew members have been affected by the strikes, actors are coming together to support workers who lost their health insurance due to the shutdowns. Not only have they been giving away valuable items (a fedora signed and once owned by Tom Waits, for example), but they are also offering unique experiences as part of an auction. Some of these include John Lithgow painting a watercolor portrait of your dog, Adam Scott walking your dog for an hour or Natasha Lyonne helping you solve the New York Times Sunday crossword, reports My Modern Met.
The auction is being hosted on eBay and many famous people like Nicole Kidman, Dan Levy, Rachel Bloom, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Spike Jonze and director Lulu Wang will be delivering Zoom meetings about their creative practices. People who are keen on learning from these experts can get first-hand insights to guide them through their careers. Currently, a top pick in terms of experience is to have dinner with David Cross and Bob Odenkirk, which has raised over $11,000. The auction will end on September 22.
According to its website, The Union Solidarity Coalition was founded by writers and directors who were "moved to connect with crew affected by the 2023 WGA strike. Watching people honor our picket lines touched and inspired us, and presented us with a model for unity in action. Though the strike is the catalyst for creating TUSC, we feel this is just the beginning of a larger, urgent movement of solidarity between all of the industry unions, and also our coworkers who aren’t part of a union. We want to think big about how we can support each other in the face of a national labor crisis." They also plan on organizing more events that act as both fundraisers and social gatherings for people across the industry.
Recently Julia Roberts auctioned off a private lunch to raise money for actors and writers as well. The meet-and-greet included a meal, 90 minutes with Roberts, and a photo op. The funds raised from this lunch would go to the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) and the Entertainment Community Fund, both of which are supporting writers and actors on the Hollywood picket lines. The meet-and-greet with Roberts was expected to raise around $40,000.
According to CNBC, Hollywood artists are also asking for better wages, working conditions, health and pension benefits. They also hope to see guardrails while using artificial intelligence in future television and film production. "We are the victims here," said Fran Drescher, president of the actors union, during a news conference. "We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us." The union also wants more transparency from streaming services about viewership so that residual payments can be made equitably.