IATSE Moves Closer to a Strike
The union plans a strike authorization vote that could shut down film and TV production in the U.S.
LOS ANGELES—With talks seemingly stalled on new contracts covering 60,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada, the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees has said it will hold a strike authorization vote that could shut down film and TV production.
The IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have been negotiating for months on the Producer-IATSE Basic Agreement and the Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Area Standard Agreement, which cover about 60,000 IATSE members. Key sticking points have included pay for workers on streaming productions, long working hours, difficult working conditions that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and pay.
In a statement issued on September 20, the IATSE said, “Today, the AMPTP informed the IATSE that they do not intend to respond to our comprehensive package proposal presented to them over a week ago. This failure to continue negotiating can only be interpreted one way. They simply will not address the core issues we have repeatedly advocated for from the beginning. As a result, we will now proceed with a nationwide strike authorization vote to demonstrate our commitment to achieving the change that is long overdue in this industry.”
In a subsequent press release, the IATSE said key sticking points include “excessively unsafe and harmful working hours;” unlivable wages for the lowest paid crafts; consistent failure to provide reasonable rest during meal breaks, between workdays, and on weekends; and the fact that “workers on certain `new media' streaming projects get paid less, even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters.”
In announcing its intention to call a strike authorization vote, the IATSE also noted that “the explosion of streaming combined with the pandemic has elevated and aggravated working conditions, bringing 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers covered by these contracts to a breaking point. We risked our health and safety all year, working through the Pandemic to ensure that our business emerged intact. Now, we cannot and will not accept a deal that leaves us with an unsustainable outcome.”
If a strike does occur it could potentially be the most devastating since the writers strike in 2014.
The AMPTP has not publicly commented on the negotiations.
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George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.