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Universal Studios denies trimming trees to punish actors on strike after receiving fine

Jess Battison

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| Last updated 

Universal Studios denies trimming trees to punish actors on strike after receiving fine

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@lacontroller

Universal Studios has denied trimming trees in order to punish protesters, as actors and writers continue to take to the picket lines amid blazing heat.

The Writers Guild of America began striking due to a dispute over pay, conditions, and use of AI technology, with the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) having recently joined them.

While on the strike, Hollywood stars obviously won’t be filming anything and also don’t partake in any promotional or publicity work for projects – with the cast of Oppenheimer walking out of their London premiere in solidarity.

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The trees before. Credit: Twitter/@lacontroller
The trees before. Credit: Twitter/@lacontroller

As the protests continue, Universal Studios decided to trim down a load of trees - the same trees that were offering shade to the picketers during a pretty intense heatwave in Los Angeles.

Strikers claimed this was a deliberate move to impact the picket line.

Universal, however, denied this, saying it’s just part of routine annual maintenance at the Hollywood studio.

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LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia initially wrote on Twitter: “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.”

Sharing a snap of the bare-looking trees, picketer Chris Stephens also wrote: “Quick shoutout to the good people at @UniversalPics for trimming the trees that gave our picket line shade right before a 90+ degree week.”

Now, the City of LA is fining the Hollywood studio for cutting the trees.

The trees after. Credit: Twitter/@lacontroller
The trees after. Credit: Twitter/@lacontroller
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Mejia wrote in an update: “StreetsLA has informed us that they are issuing a citation in the amount of $250 (first-time offense) to Universal Studios. The citation alleges a violation of trimming trees without a city permit.

“Outdated laws limit penalties the City can issue.”

He also added: “Trees are essential to providing Angelenos with significant environmental and public health benefits, especially during a heatwave. Public Works’ Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA) is responsible for maintaining the City's 700,000+ trees in the public right-of-way.”

Meija explained that businesses can obtain ‘a permit to trim a tree’.

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A spokesperson from Universal says the trees get trimmed around this time of year, each year and it hadn’t been done in an action against picketers.

Protesters weren't happy. Credit: @ChrisStephensMD/Twitter
Protesters weren't happy. Credit: @ChrisStephensMD/Twitter

Local media has also confirmed that the studio set up tents and has been giving water to those on the picket line.

"We support the [strikers'] right to demonstrate, and are working to provide some shade coverage," the company said.

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UNILAD has contacted Universal Studios for further comment

Topics: Film & TV, Film and TV, SAG-AFTRA Writers Strike

Jess Battison
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