Did Universal accidentally admit to breaking the law just to spite striking union workers?!
As we’re sure you’ve heard, the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are on strike for better working conditions and proper pay. But striking isn’t just about not making the studios’ movies — it’s a proactive event. Writers and actors aren’t sitting at home in the AC, they’re on picket lines at the entrances of studios, often with adorable signs.
Right now striking is hard work — it is HOT out there! But as they arrived at Gate 8 of Universal at the beginning of the heat wave week, strikers noticed something odd. The ficus trees that line the sidewalk had all been trimmed. Not just trimmed, STRIPPED BARE, in a way you simply do not ever see trees in this town. Especially not in the summer.
See, here’s what they looked like before:
It seemed to everyone right away that the studio had sent someone out, over the weekend, during a summer heat wave, to go GI Jane on these trees just to make sure striking union members had no shade. What, do they want them to go broke AND get heatstroke??
Right away Universal realized they couldn’t deny the trimming — but they assured Deadline in a statement that it was not with the intention of hurting striking actors and writers:
“We understand that the safety tree trimming of the Ficus trees we did on Barham Blvd. has created unintended challenges for demonstrators, that was not our intention. In partnership with licensed arborists, we have pruned these trees annually at this time of year to ensure that the canopies are light ahead of the high wind season. We support the WGA and SAG’s right to demonstrate, and are working to provide some shade coverage. We continue to openly communicate with the labor leaders on-site to work together during this time.”
So they’re claiming they always trim these trees? Every summer? Well, that’s an obvious lie. Those trees never look like that, and there’s photo evidence going back years to prove it. But the bigger problem for Universal? They’re not allowed to trim those trees at all.
See, it didn’t take long for the city of LA to get wind of this, as it turns out those are Los Angeles trees — and only the city is supposed to be handling them! LA city controller Kenneth Mejia posted Tuesday evening that his office was looking into it…
And sure enough, by Wednesday morning, he had his answer — Universal does NOT trim these trees every year, they checked the last three years and Universal hasn’t gotten any permits to trim these trees in all that time. Nor did the city trim them, nor did they issue permits to anyone else to trim them.
This was an illegal hatchet job on these trees!
And the thing is, Universal’s statement swearing they never intended to hurt the demonstrators? It’s now a confession. Because they totally admitted to trimming those effing trees! And of course since they don’t do it every year, and they had no reason to do it, and it’s not good for safety or the health of the trees… they also made it clear why they did it.
We don’t know what the legal repercussions will be for Universal, certainly some kind of fine — but it’s a PR disaster. They admitted to being cartoonish super-villains like something from their Minions movies, willing to hurt some defenseless trees just make the strike more dangerous to people’s health. Gross.
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