In This Episode
- Congress approved a short-term spending bill to keep the government open until early December, but Democrats are still scrambling to strike deals on social policies and infrastructure.
- The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union representing thousands of workers in the entertainment industry, has been at a months-long impasse in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over issues like more time for rest and better wages. Today, union members begin to vote on strike authorization.
- And in headlines: the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines regarding immigrants who are undocumented, Facebook’s head of safety testified at a Senate hearing, and Shakira and her son were overrun by two wild hogs.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, October 1st, if you can believe that. I am Gideon Resnick.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I am Priyanka Aribindi and this is What A Day, the podcast that’s recommended as a first-line treatment for acute Havana Syndrome.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s officially sanctioned by the CIA, to treat your syndrome. That part, that’s where, that’s where we’re going to cut it out for sure.
Priyanka Aribindi: Nope!
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, the union that represents production crews on TV and film sets starts voting today about a strike authorization and we hear from some of the members. Plus, we’re going to place bets on which bear will be the fattest for Fat Bear Week.
Priyanka Aribindi: Very excited to hear your pick.
Gideon Resnick: Same.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, we want to give you a quick update on what’s happening in Congress. As we go to record this on Thursday night, a few things remain up in the air. But for now, I’m happy to report that the Senate and the House have approved a short-term spending bill to keep the government open until early December.
Gideon Resnick: And then we get to do it all over again.
Priyanka Aribindi: Woo-Hoo. It also provides some funds for disaster relief nationwide, as well as to support the resettlement of Afghan refugees. As we said before, government shutdowns are really catastrophic and disruptive, definitely not something we want to be dealing with or territory we want to be in at all. So this is good news that we’re avoiding this.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And so what updates do we have on these other more complicated pieces of the puzzle, the big bills, if you will, that are up in the air?
Priyanka Aribindi: So the first is the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better act. That is Joe Biden’s signature plan. It includes funding for lots of social priorities like fighting climate change, expanding child care and early education, creating paid family and medical leave, and lowering prescription drug costs. But that $3.5 trillion bill is where Democrats need both Senators Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema to join the rest of the party to get it passed. But they are currently holding out. Manchin is having his usual issues. He’s saying that he’d support the bill if it was $1.5 trillion, but that is about two trillion less than, you know, it’s been, and that’s a lot less money to do a lot less things with.
Gideon Resnick: That’s right. Quite a lot less. And then what is the status of the other bill that’s on the table, the one trillion dollar package for infrastructure?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that one is your money for roads, bridges, transit, broadband upgrades, airports, electric vehicles—your usual infrastructure stuff. But that bill has passed the Senate with bipartisan support, but it might actually get held up in the House if there is no deal on the $3.5 trillion bill.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, by the time you’re listening to this, we might have new bridges to talk about. I don’t know. We’ll see.
Priyanka Aribindi: You know, we hope. That is the latest on Congress as we go to record this on Thursday night. But as always, you can stay up to date with the breaking updates by following Crooked Media. We’re on Twitter, Instagram, everywhere—you name it, we’re there. With that out of the way, Gideon I know you’ve been following a potentially historic strike. Tell us a bit about what is going on.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So on yesterday’s show, we kind of walked people through the ongoing situation with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE. Definitely go back and listen to that if you want another refresher. So that is the union that’s representing thousands of workers in the entertainment industry. And it has been at this months’ long impasse in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over a lot of issues, namely some like more time for rest, better wages, things like that. But today, IATSE union members are beginning to vote on a strike authorization, which would allow for a strike to be called farther down the road.
Priyanka Aribindi: You have been talking with some members of this union about what they’ve been going through and what they’re thinking right now. What have they been telling you?
Gideon Resnick: There’s a lot that’s out there, a lot of insane stuff from everybody. So first I spoke with Alison Golub. She is a writer’s assistant with Local 871. I when she used to work on sets, her job was even more grueling.
[Alison Golub] There’s no work-life balance. You don’t want to turn down work because you don’t know when the next job’s going to come along. But then the job you do take it means devoting at least 60 hours a week of your life, if not much more.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And here’s an example of the intense scheduling that she has dealt with when starting work on Fridays on set.
[Alison Golub] Often they’ll do Fraturdays, which means you’re not wrapping until 4 or 5 in the morning on Saturday, and then you’re coming back in 5AM Monday morning, you know, 48 hours later.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And of course, this ends up being cumulative and not healthy, and it actually took a lot at times for her just to stay awake.
[Alison Golub] I remember coming in at like 5:30 in the morning, by 9, 10 AM, I’m like falling asleep standing up and like, I have to go get something sugary and unhealthy to keep myself awake. So many times where I was like blasting the AC and the music in my car to keep myself awake, like I can think of so many days that were like that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Geez. And is what you’re hearing all that uncommon? Are you hearing this from other people as well?
Gideon Resnick: Oh, it’s not uncommon at all. I mean, this is like universal. It’s only degrees of like how crazy the horror stories are. I also spoke with Alaina McManus. She is a camera technician and member of IATSE Local 600. She told me that another challenge on top of everything else is the unpredictable scheduling.
[Alaina McManus] We never know if we’re going to break for lunch on time or at all. And we never know when we’re going to go home. So you can’t plan anything. And when you’re working for 12, 14 hours a day, like picking up a prescription, making a doctor’s appointment, even just, you know, time with your family becomes extremely diminished.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that’s like nuts to me. That is crazy. You have also been hearing a little bit about the kind of low wages that people with these jobs have had to deal with. Can you tell us more about that as well?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot to that. But one example is that Alison Golub told me wages are a really big focus of the writers in IATSE. She said that the union minimum for writers assistants is $16 an hour, which is just one more than LA’s minimum wage
[Alison Golub] It is not unreasonable to want to be able to afford to live your life while you’re working 60 hours a week. I mean, you always hear horror stories or see them in assistant groups of people asking, Where can I sell my plasma? Where can I sell my eggs? No one should have to be asking that to make a living while they’re working full time jobs.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you, you hear it in her voice. It really is not unreasonable to want to be able to afford your life while you’re working any job. Shout that from the rooftops. Put it everywhere. It’s completely, completely within reason. I know that the voting on the strike authorization begins today. Do you have a sense of how it could go based on the people you’re talking to?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I mean, basically, everybody thinks that this is going to pass. Alison Golub said as much. The camera technician, Alaina McManus, told me everyone that she knows is going to vote yes. And so did Rebecca Rhine, the National Executive Director of the International Cinematographers IATSE Local 600. Here’s what she told me:
[Rebecca Rhine] I believe the strike authorization vote will pass overwhelmingly, and I think it’s fair to say that nobody wants a strike. A strike is a failure to resolve issues and find solutions.
Priyanka Aribindi: That I think is a really important point, and something that stuck with me in listening to this, that no one wants a strike. You know, we want to reach a deal. People want to be able to do their work. Isn’t that kind of what you’re hearing as well?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I mean, yeah, wanting to be at work, be paid for what you’re doing. But a lot of people, yeah, I mean, a lot of people love what they do and they just want to be compensated in a fair way for it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Gideon Resnick: Rhine also told me that this fight kind of fits in right with the broader labor movement that we’ve seen across the country in many, many other industries.
[Rebecca Rhine] This is a fight about how you treat your workers, whether it’s Amazon warehouses or Amazon film sets. This is a much, much bigger fight than just about the entertainment industry.
Priyanka Aribindi: 100%. What is the timeline of this voting?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s a great question. So it goes from today through Sunday, with the final results that are expected early next week. At least 75% of the people voting need to say yes for it to be successful. So we’ll keep following that as it progresses here. And Priyanka one other labor story I’m keeping my eye on: earlier this month, members of United Auto Workers approved a strike authorization as contract negotiations have been ongoing with John Deere. And as a recording time, thousands of John Deere employees in Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois could actually go on strike as early as today. We’re going to link to a story that goes over some of those details. More on this to come, and these kinds of stories, but that is the latest for now.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we are talking about the only animal-themed week that is more impactful than the Shark one: it is Fat Bear Week, when staff at Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve show us all the bears in their territory who have gorged themselves on salmon to prepare for hibernation. Then we pit them against each other in a bracket style contest to decide who is the number one fat bear. The park has been running the contest for the past seven years, sharing before and after photos of the participating bears. The bear transformation really is quite dramatic. Bears can put on four pounds of weight a day in the lead up to winter—my chonky kings—and by the time they start hibernating, males get way up to 1,200 pounds. More information about the contest is at Fat Bear Week dot org. Priyanka, there are a lot of amazing bears competing this year, but who do you think will be announced as the winner next Tuesday?
Priyanka Aribindi: OK, it was a tough pick, and I encourage all of you to go on the site and look this up because there are a bunch of wonderful competitors up here, but my pick is bear 812. Which I also want to say, all these bears need names.
Gideon Resnick: They do.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t like it. Some of them have just numbers. That is that feels mean.
Gideon Resnick: I agree.
Priyanka Aribindi: But 812, he is a grizzled brown fur bear. He is like a young adult, and I like that his personality is not so dominant. He seems like kind of a friendly guy, but I think that he could like kind of sneak up, like he’s someone you want to root for. And that is how I came to that conclusion. But Gideon, I want to know a little more about who you think is going to win.
Gideon Resnick: My pick—and again, you really are going to have to look at the bears in order for this makes sense—but my pick is 32 Chunk. He is indeed a chunk. He was the runner-up last year, and I think that he’s going to get it this year. You know, I think he’s going to come back chonkier than ever. This is his to lose. That’s my pick.
Priyanka Aribindi: OK, well, we want to know what you guys think. So everyone, please look this up. Tell us. Pick your bear. Pick mine, not Gideon’s. Vote for them. Let us know what you think. And we will keep you updated as, you know, this competition heats up. I didn’t know about this until yesterday. My life has been changed. So I’m now deeply invested.
Gideon Resnick: Priyanka didn’t know about it until yesterday, and she wants you to pick her bear. Seems like a little bit of a fallacy in logic. But anyway, like that, we have checked our temps. Pick your bear. You can pick Priyanka’s. It’s totally fine. I will only be slightly sad. And we’ll be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: The Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines yesterday, which explained that immigrants to the U.S. should not be targeted for arrest or deportation just because they are undocumented. The guidelines will also give individual Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, officers more discretion in determining who constitutes a threat to quote “public safety.” Under the Trump administration, ICE officers were allowed to arrest anyone who is in the U.S. illegally at any time. When Biden took office, he instructed ICE to focus only on certain groups of undocumented immigrants, like people with criminal histories, and he required agents to get approval from supervisors to arrest people outside of those groups. The new guidelines throw out the supervision rule and instruct officers to do their own thorough assessment of an individual’s risk. OK. Immigration activists and lawyers pointed out that this change will make it harder to hold individual ICE officers accountable. The new directives are going to take effect on November 29th.
Priyanka Aribindi: You know, first part sounds pretty good. Second part, I don’t know who thought that was a good idea. I certainly do not. Facebook’s head of safety testified at a Senate hearing yesterday about its product’s effects on young people’s mental health. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles detailing internal research done by Facebook, which shows that its photo sharing app, Instagram, can induce body image issues and suicidal thoughts for teens and, most notably, teenage girls. The company has said that its research has been misinterpreted and taken out of context. During yesterday’s hearing, a bipartisan group of senators accused Facebook of concealing its findings and asked why the company didn’t do more when it found out that its product was harmful. Lawmakers vowed that they would modernize the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a behind the times 1998 law that governs websites that gather data on kids. Yeah, definitely behind the times. Speaking of, here is a brief exchange from yesterday between Senator Richard Blumenthal and the Facebook executive, where they discussed the concept of private secondary Instagram’s, also known as Finstas. Try not to cringe.
[clip of Senator Blumenthal] Will you commit to ending Finsta?
[Facebook executive] Senator, again, let me explain. We don’t actually, we don’t actually do Finsta.
Gideon Resnick: OK. I mean, that’s kind of how I thought it would go.
Priyanka Aribindi: I saw a tweet that was like, he says Finsta like you saying like NAFTA or something, and he completely does!
Gideon Resnick: Right, right, right. Yes, this was like a treaty signed like 55 years ago. It’s codified, like international governments recognize it. Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is a fake Instagram that I’m just like sending pictures from. It’s like a burner account. You’re fine.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I have more questions about that specifically later. But a stars really are just like us. They shop for groceries, they get coffee with their friends. They get attacked and robbed by two wild hogs in Barcelona. On Wednesday, Shakira posted videos in her Instagram Stories explaining how she and her son were overrun by two hogs in a public park, who proceeded to grab her bag and run away into the woods. Now, fortunately, the singer and her son escaped the ordeal unscathed. But we do think the wild hogs could be in danger for eating all the loose mints in Shakira’s purse. Lookout. The feral hogs in question are far from lone actors. Appearances of these invasive predators that carry diseases and leave destruction in their wake has increased rapidly in recent years everywhere from Berlin to Hong Kong to Houston. But Priyanka, enough about me and my friend group, and let’s get back to the hogs. Everyone, beware of wild hogs. And to be clear, we are not referring to the 2007 film of that name starring Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, John Travolta, and William H. Macy, which could actually act as a balm for your spirit after a real-life hog attack.
Priyanka Aribindi: Eminem has opened up an Italian restaurant named after his hit song Lose Yourself, and it is called “Mom’s Spaghetti.” “The M&M Store” would have been cleaner, but unfortunately it was taken. Eminem’s new Detroit spot seems to serve your standard spaghetti and meatballs, and we cannot speak to the quality of the food—WAD has not sent us there yet, though, we would go—but it is referenced in a rap song in the context of throwing up on your own shirt. So draw your own conclusions. Also in celebrity news, it sounds like a dream you had, but aren’t sure if you’re remembering it right: Lindsay Lohan has teamed up with an NFT collective canine cartel to auction off an image of Lohan drawn as a dog, or more specifically, her “fursona.” A fursona is an anthropomorphized animal character popular among the furry community. And if you do not know what that is, feel free to Google. The minimum bid is set at around $1,500 and in the very narrow chance that this hit all of your interests . . . first of all, no judgment from us, and second of all, you can bid on the NFT up until Saturday morning. So get moving.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, get the bids in, right after your search. Search about what this is on your computer and then get the bids in. [laughs]
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, sure. Definitely, definitely do that.
Gideon Resnick: Mm hmm. And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go. Philip Picardi’s podcast “Unholier than Thou” has risen from the dead and is back for Season 2: Resurrection. For a second, I was like, Why are we saying the dead thing?
Priyanka Aribindi: I know, I was like, spooky season. I guess it’s October.
Gideon Resnick: It is. This season is all about the wisdom of everyday people falling down, getting up, and trying new things as they navigate reentry into a newish world. You can listen in as Philip’s search for illumination takes him on a road trip from L.A. to Cambridge, Massachusetts for his first semester of Harvard Divinity School. The Unholier Than Thou Trailer is out now and Episode 1 drops October 8th. Follow and listen to Unholier Than Thou now, wherever you get your podcasts. That is all for today. If, you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, buy Lindsay Lohan’s persona if you want, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just the official working definition of a Finsta like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And watch Wild Hogs this weekend!
Priyanka Aribindi: Will you be doing that that weekend, Gideon?
Gideon Resnick: I will not. I don’t think that I will.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes. Jazzi Marine is our associate producer, with production help from Jocey Coffman. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and Me. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.