The Baltimore connection

Striker Rafael Alvarez brings his union's message to town

December 21, 2007|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Reporter

About three dozen picketers, including actors from The Wire, took to a Baltimore street corner yesterday morning to voice their support for the Writers Guild of America's seven-week-old strike against movie and television producers.

"Their fight is our fight," said actor Delaney Williams, a member of the Screen Actors Guild who plays Sgt. Jay Landsman on HBO's The Wire.

The picketers, massed at the corner of Pratt and Light streets, handed out leaflets to the occasional pedestrian and waved signs at passing motorists.

Every minute or so, drivers could be heard honking their car or truck horns in support. A passing Baltimore City firetruck sounded its alarm momentarily.

Members from at least a half-dozen unions were among the picketers, including representatives of the building trades and communications workers unions. "I was raised in a union family," said John Stelmack, a member of Carpenters Local 491. "All unions are out there fighting for the same cause."

The informational picket was organized by Sun alumnus and striking writer-producer Rafael Alvarez (NBC's Life), who decided to use part of his Christmas visit home to Baltimore to drum up support for his union.

The main point of contention between the writers and producers involves compensation for work downloaded from the Web. The writers want to be paid royalties (4 cents) for each download, while the producers want to study the issue before agreeing to a pay scale.

"I felt it was time to begin a relationship with our other unions," said Alvarez, who is also a member of the Seafarers International Union, "in a city that has a long and proud union history."

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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