Ted Sarandos in front of grey and red Netflix background

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Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos mocked for saying he was ‘raised in a union household’

Hollywood strikers labeled Netflix's Ted Sarandos a hypocrite after he namechecked his dad's union job.

 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 20, 2023

Amid the Hollywood strikes, studio bosses are mostly doubling down on fearmongering and strike-breaking tactics.

However, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos just came forward with a surprising attempt at sympathy. In a statement about Netflix’s quarterly earnings, Sarandos emphasized his childhood “in a union household,” namechecking his father, a union electrician:

“I remember his local because that union was very much a part of our lives when I was growing up. And I also remember on more than one occasion my dad being out on strike. And I remember that because it takes an enormous toll on your family, financially and emotionally.”

But strikers weren’t impressed, deriding Ted Sarandos’ comments on Twitter. Industry insiders also questioned his claim that Netflix was “constantly” negotiating with the unions.

The striking writers and actors want to negotiate with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), campaigning for fair pay and working conditions. However, these unions have accused the AMPTP of refusing to negotiate.

They’ve also accused the AMPTP of rejecting reasonable contract requests. For instance, a Screen Actors Guild request to update the rules for on-set meal breaks, last updated in 1961. The AMPTP also rejected the idea of increased penalties for employers that fail to pay actors on time.

Most of these comments boil down to accusations of hypocrisy, with numerous people quipping that Sarandos’ dad would be ashamed of him.

As the biggest brand of the streaming era, Netflix faces extensive criticism from the unions. Netflix projects are notorious for offering almost no residual pay compared to network TV, with actors from hit shows working second jobs to make ends meet. Meanwhile, Netflix paid Sarandos $50 million last year. He actually received a raise and bonuses, even as Netflix workers were being underpaid and laid off.

In that context, a story about being “raised in a union household” doesn’t hold much weight among the strikers. If anything, it makes him look worse.

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*First Published: Jul 20, 2023, 11:39 am CDT