(NationalUSNews.com) — Universal Pictures in Los Angeles was slapped with a $250 fine last Friday for trimming the trees that provided shade to striking writers and actors, the New York Post reported. Last Wednesday, LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia said in a Twitter thread that an investigation was underway since the city had not granted the necessary permits for Universal to trim the ficus trees that lined the sidewalk outside of the studio’s Gate 8.
In a follow-up thread on Friday, Meijia revealed that StreetsLA informed his office that it has issued a $250 citation to Universal for having the ficus trees trimmed without a permit.
Striking workers from both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA were furious last Monday when they returned to the picket line outside of Universal only to discover that the shade trees that kept them from standing in the blazing hot sun had been drastically trimmed back. Comedian Chris Stephens tweeted a photo of the truncated trees, offering a sarcastic shout-out to Universal for cutting back the branches that gave them shade just as the temperatures were forecast to be above 90 degrees.
However, NBCUniversal quickly denied that the trees were trimmed out of malice, according to CNN. In a statement to the network last week, a spokesperson for the company claimed that the trees were trimmed for safety reasons and acknowledged that the move “created unintended challenges” for the striking writers and actors.
The spokesperson said that the studio has the row of ficus trees pruned every summer “to ensure that the canopies are light head of the high wind season.”
According to the spokesperson, the studio is working to provide additional accommodations for the strikers, including pop-up tents for shade and water.
The spokesperson told CNN that the company is continuing to communicate with the on-site union leaders “to work together during this time.”
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