LOS ANGELES – The union representing film and television crews said its 60,000 members would start a nationwide strike on Monday if they failed to reach a deal that meets demands for just and safe working conditions.
A strike would end the shooting of a wide range of film and television productions and extend far beyond Hollywood, affecting productions in Georgia, New Mexico and other North American shoots.
International Alliance of Theater Workers International President Matthew Loeb said on Wednesday the strike would start at 12:01 a.m. Monday unless an agreement was reached on rest and meal periods and pay for his less well-off workers paid.
Loeb cited a lack of urgency in the pace of negotiations to set a strike date.
“Without an end date, we could go on talking forever,” Loeb said in a statement. “Our members deserve to have their basic needs met now. ”
A strike would be a serious setback for an industry that has recently returned to work after long pandemic shutdowns and recurring aftershocks amid new outbreaks.
“There are five full days to come to an agreement,” said Jarryd Gonzales, a group publicist representing the studios. “The studios will continue to negotiate in good faith with the goal of reaching an agreement for a new contract that will allow the industry to continue to operate.”
As in other industries, many people behind the scenes began to reassess their lives and the demands of their profession during the pandemic. And now that production is on the rise again, union leaders say “catching up” is resulting in worse working conditions.
“People have reported that working conditions are deteriorating and worsening,” Jonas Loeb, IATSE’s communications director at the AP, said last week. “And those 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers who are under these contracts are really at a breaking point.”
It would be the first national strike in the 128-year history of the IATSE, whose members include directors of photography, cameramen, decorators, carpenters, hairdressers and makeup artists, animators and many more.
Union members say they are forced to work excessive hours and do not get reasonable rest through meal breaks and enough free time between shifts. Executives say the lowest paid artisans receive unliveable wages. And streamers like Netflix, Apple, and Amazon are allowed to pay even less under previous deals that allowed them more flexibility when they were newbies.
“We have continued to try to make employers understand the importance of our priorities, the fact that they are human beings and that working conditions concern dignity, health and safety at work,” said said Rebecca Rhine, National Executive Director of the Filmmakers Guild, IATSE Local 600. “Health and safety issues, unsafe hours, not interrupting meals, have been the exception for many years in the workplace. industry, which is a tough industry. But what they have become is the norm.
The union reported on Oct. 4 that its members voted overwhelmingly to allow its president to authorize a strike, but negotiations and hopes of avoiding a walkout resumed after the vote.
The Alliance of Film and Television Producers, which represents studios and other entertainment companies in negotiations, said its members value their team members and are committed to avoiding a shutdown in an industry that is still recovering. .
“A strike is always difficult for everyone. Everyone is suffering, it is difficult, but I believe that our members have the will and the determination to do what is necessary to be heard and for their voices to be translated into real change in the industry, ”said Rhine. “What we have learned from the pandemic is that employers can change the way they do business if it is in their best interests to do so.”