Gov. Gavin Newsom Tells Bill Maher That He Tried to Resolve WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strikes: ‘You Can Be Constructive Behind the Scenes’

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During a recent appearance on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed his role in resolving last year’s WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

Maher asked Newsom why he didn’t get “more involved” in the strike negotiations, adding, “Why couldn’t the governor say, ‘This is an important industry in our state, one of our most important. You knuckleheads are gonna find a number that you agree on at some point, it always happens. Instead of putting these people out of work for all these months and all the suffering and heartache, can we just get it done today?’”

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Newsom replied, “Well, we did all of that, except the knucklehead part, [and it] was expressed on multiple occasions, down here on many, many different occasions.”

The governor explained how his involvement was more “behind the scenes,” saying that he “absolutely” met with people from both the Hollywood unions and major studios.

“Not only meeting with both sides, meeting with individuals, phone calls, text messages, emails, working behind the scenes, national groups, state groups,” Newsom said. “So it is all part of the art of the possible in the deal, in the context of not showing your cards and showing a bias upfront, so you can be constructive behind the scenes when both parties call you when you are needed… Sometimes you are more public, sometimes it is done behind the scenes.”

The writers strike started on May 2 and ended Sept. 27, while the actors strike occurred from July 14 to Nov. 9, resulting in a months-long work stoppage in 2023. According a study released by Otis College of Art and Design in December, 17% of L.A.-based showbiz workers lost their jobs during the work stoppages.

Back in October of last year, Newsom vetoed a bill giving unemployment benefits to striking workers, which was backed by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA. “Now is not the time to increase costs or incur this sizable debt,” he wrote in his veto message.

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