California’s Wave of Labor Activism Surges Once More


California’s “hot labor summer” is going strong.

Long a union stronghold, the state has been gripped this year by a wave of labor activism in several industries, as workers chafe against the pressures of inflation, housing shortages and technological disruptions.

Teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District won major pay increases after a walkout in March. The Los Angeles Dodgers recently averted a strike by giving ushers, groundskeepers and other workers significant raises. Kaiser Permanente employees have been picketing to draw attention to low staffing levels as they negotiate a new contract.

This week, striking hotel workers called on Taylor Swift to postpone her upcoming concerts in Los Angeles so that her fans will not fill the hotels of the Southland. Swift is set to perform six sold-out shows at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood starting this evening.

Some California politicians, including several mayors and the state’s lieutenant governor, Eleni Kounalakis, who is running for governor in 2026, signed a solidarity letter asking Swift to reschedule.

“The hotels are making more money than ever, but many workers cannot afford to live close to where they work,” the politicians wrote. “Some of them even sleep in their cars between shifts. Others are at risk of losing their homes. Hotel workers are fighting for their lives.”

There appeared to be some movement this week in California’s two highest-profile labor actions: the walkouts by the tens of thousands of members of the screenwriters’ and actors’ guilds.

It is first time the two unions have been on strike at the same time since 1960, and the actions have essentially shut down production of scripted entertainment in the U.S. The Emmy Awards have been postponed because of the strikes, and it seems increasingly likely that viewers will have fewer scripted TV shows to watch in 2024.

The writers’ guild told its members in an email Tuesday night that Carol Lombardini, the studios’ negotiator, had asked for “a meeting this Friday to discuss negotiations.” The request is the first sign of movement in the dispute since early May, when negotiations between the writers and the studios fell apart, my colleagues Brooks Barnes and John Koblin report.

The strikes against the Hollywood studios come at a time when the growth of streaming services has upended the entertainment industry. The studios say their profit margins have dwindled as cable and network TV viewership has shifted to streaming. Workers say they’re struggling to earn a living wage and need new protections in a rapidly changing workplace.

They also say they’re primed for a long fight. Many of the writers and actors were accustomed to relying on side gigs even before they went on strike.

“Just being in the industry alone, you have to be resilient,” said Charrell Mack, a member of the actors’ union who does administrative work for a doggy day-care business, a job that pays her bills and gives her flexible hours so that she can audition for parts.

Mack was on the picket line outside Paramount Pictures Studios on a recent weekday with her friend Bukola Ogunmola. Both have Master of Fine Arts degrees in acting from the University of Southern California, but their credentials don’t guarantee consistent work. Ogunmola has gotten used to juggling jobs in marketing, special events and desk reception. She has also taught in prisons and juvenile detention centers.

“We kind of have to do it all and still do our art,” she said. Being unable to work as an actor during the strike, she said, hasn’t actually changed much about her life.

“If I had 12 jobs before, I’m taking 13 — that’s really the only difference,” she said. “So I can wait it out.”

Today’s tip comes from Addison Olian, who lives in Sausalito. Addison recommends a visit to her town, across the Golden Gate Strait from San Francisco:

Just about eight minutes across the Golden Gate Bridge, we have world-class restaurants, sand beaches, five venues for live music and places to picnic, fish, kayak and paddle board.

On any given afternoon or night, you can hear jazz, folk, rock ’n’ roll and more. Head over to the No Name, a tiny bar that hasn’t changed for about 50 years. Or be invited onto a funky, 70-year-old barge called the Sausalito Cruising Club.

Sausalito is casual and creative, with writers, photographers, sculptors, as well as an eclectic 700-plus houseboat community that stretches across five docks. One dock named Issaquah, after the ferryboat that used to plow the Bay’s waters, is originally from Washington State and features overflowing flower gardens for residents to enjoy.

Sausalito — it’s about as good as it gets in Northern California, and that’s why living here makes me, and apparently hundreds of thousands of people from around the world, happy.

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

The New York Times is reporting on how commuting has changed over the last three years for people who have never had the option to work from home.

Jobs that must be done in person include those in health care, hospitality, food service, manufacturing, building maintenance, sanitation, public safety — you name it.

We’d like to hear about your experiences. Tell us more.

Yesterday, San Francisco celebrated the 150th anniversary of its open-air cable cars, which were developed in the city using technology from mining conveyance systems. The first cable car trip was made on San Clay Street on Aug. 2, 1873.

Though the transportation mode spread to other cities, cable cars remain in municipal use only in San Francisco these days, as a tourist attraction and a way for local residents to get around. According to Aaron Peskin, the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the cars have survived two pandemics, two great earthquakes and a number of major fires.


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