Universal Studios is often an associated rival of the Walt Disney Company. Their theme parks famously rival each other in Florida and California – so they definitely understand the heat and the value of good shade. Universal Studios is often known for being a bit more mature and intense than Walt Disney World and Disneyland, but the big studios behind the companies seem to agree on one thing – they’re against labor strikes. A sudden Universal Studios tree trim definitely proved some intensity.
Near Universal Studios Hollywood, protesters from the Writers Guild and Screen Actors Guild continued their strikes that have currently halted the entertainment industry. Big Studios have made it clear that they are not willing to negotiate, some happy to let the striking talent go broke before sitting down to talk with them. Universal Studios proved it would not only passively let the strikers burn out but it would also actively push some physical heat on them as well.
— Chris Stephens (@ChrisStephensMD) July 17, 2023
The Barham Boulevard area, where strikers conducted their demonstrations under the shade of Ficus trees, was suddenly in direct sunlight by the Monday morning protests. Over the blistering California weekend, the trees outside of Universal were trimmed, forcing strikers under the hot sun. Deadline reports that “Pine trees on the opposite side of Barham weren’t touched, as were a row of pepper trees behind the fence near the production gate.”
Our Office is investigating the tree trimming that occurred outside Universal Studios where workers, writers, and actors are exercising their right to picket.
The trimmed trees are LA City managed street trees.
(Before and after photos below) pic.twitter.com/xczw0bTdh9
— LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia (@lacontroller) July 19, 2023
A spokesperson for Universal insisted that the Ficus tree trimming is something done annually for safety reasons and creating “unintended challenges for demonstrators…was not [their] intention.” Universal Studios claims to be “in support [of] the WGA and SAG’s right to demonstrate and are working to provide some shade coverage.”
WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikers say they are not deterred by the Universal Studios tree trim, though it is harder to get members on the line in such oppressive weather.