SF, Union Town?

One of the more surprising things about living in San Francisco is that I’m now a part of a union. Never in my lifetime of working in tech did I imagine that would happen. However, now that I work in the public sector, union life is bustling. I’m very proud to be part of a union. I see its positive impacts everyday, from the pay rises I didn’t have to personally bargain for, to the additional time off each year, and in a lot of little things as well.

Learning about all of this also got me to learn about the unions that protect the working class in the Bay Area.

So when I heard there was going to be a rally outside SF City Hall in support of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), I knew I had to go. San Francisco’s media industry isn’t as large as LA’s, so our media workers make even less and have fewer protections. However, many Bay Area companies are responsible for the challenges we are now seeing. Decades of breathless tech solutionism and optimism with little concern for its ethical or real life consequences have led to the collapse of many industries, and people’s livelihoods.

Although I now own a full frame DSLR (for bird photography), I ran there instead with a Yashica Mat-124G TLR camera from 1970, and three rolls of Kodak T-Max 400 film. Later that night, I developed the film in Rodinal in my bathroom. While I’m interested in some applications of AI (it has been useful in automating some tasks, for example), I am less positive about the creative applications. I started to learn to develop film this year, warts and all, partly as a response for that. It calms me to have a physical copy of a film negative that I can hold.

a scan of a black and white photo showing a man holding a sign that says SAG-AFTRA on strike, with his side profile turned towards the camera. he is smiling

Many people enthusiastically supporting the SAG-AFTRA strike

Plenty of slogans

a scan of a black and white photo showing a woman holding a SAG-AFTRA on Strike placard, she has her side view of her face turned to the camera and she looks serious


a scan of a black and white photo showing a gathering of people outside SF City Hall holding signs supporting the strike. In the background, half the photo has a scene of the field and Bill Graham auditorium building and a steam geyser with steam coming out of the road

It was a good crowd

a scan of a black and white photo showing a woman holding a handmade sign written on a piece of ruled paper that says A(cting) I(ndividuals) Against AI

All kinds of signs!

a scan of a black and white photo showing a placard that says PSL (a socialist party), injury to one is an injury to all next to a SAG-AFTRA sign

All of our workplace rights today were won through similar collective actions in the past

Media workers really have a raw deal, and there is no doubt that we should be supporting their strike against the studios.

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Adrianna Tan @skinnylatte
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