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Alex Aguilar, a long-time Local 724 member and officer, had an incredible job working on a feature in 2007. Like many films, there were a few speed bumps along the way—in this case, the script needed some rewrites. This normally won’t derail an entire production, but these re-writes were needed at an unfortunate time: the beginning of the 2007 Writers Guild of America West strike. The studio sent everyone home and told them they’d be back as soon as the strike ended, a few weeks at most.
“The studio sent us all home, and I was then waiting for the strike to end so I could go back,” says Alex. “They thought it should be over in a few weeks, but of course that wasn’t the case. Next thing I know, I’m home for quite some time.”
As the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months, money started getting tight. And because the writers strike essentially stopped production across the industry, it wasn’t exactly like Alex could just turn to another project. To make matters even worse, Alex’s wife was pregnant at the time—and on bed rest. She wasn’t working either.
“We burned through our savings. Bills began piling up and we were at risk of falling behind on our mortgage,” says Alex. “That when someone told me to call MPTF.”
Alex contacted an MPTF social worker, who gave him the required paperwork, and a short while later, Alex and his family were no longer worried about whether they’d fall too far behind to ever catch up. “MPTF helped out with my mortgage payment, water, and power. It might not seem like a lot, but after you spend all your savings, anything that keeps you from becoming homeless is priceless. They helped keep us afloat.”
Alex says the experience has been a positive one. And since the strike—as well as before—he’s had consistent work. In fact, that’s what makes his story like so many others: Alex had worked steadily for 10 years before the strike. He’d saved, and prepared, and when the strike dragged on for months, all that planning and saving and consistent work still wasn’t enough.
In the eight years since the strike, Alex has continued working—and has risen in Local 724 leadership as well. He was elected Secretary-Treasurer of Local 724 in April 2012 and became a member of the Day at the Races committee, which benefits MPTF, for the 2015 event.
“I’ve had a fortunate career, and I’ve had the opportunity to see the magic behind films such as Spider Man 3, Captain America, Iron Man, and more.” Since he was elected secretary-treasurer, Alex has spent more time advocating for his fellow Local 724 members, and not working in the field, he says.
“If it wasn’t for MPTF, I’d have been stuck in a hard place, and who knows what might have happened to my career. It’s felt so good to be able to support MPTF with my work on the Day at the Races committee—like I’ve taken the journey full circle.”
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