LOS ANGELES (AP) – A union representing television and film workers in the United States says its 60,000 members will begin a nationwide strike on Monday if it fails to reach an agreement that meets demands for fair and safe working conditions.
The strike would halt filming for a wide range of film and television productions and would extend well beyond Hollywood, affecting productions in Georgia, New Mexico and other filming locations.
The international president of the International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees (IATSE), Matthew Loeb, said Wednesday that the strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. Monday unless an agreement is reached on the rest and meal periods and pay workers with the lowest wages.
Loeb cited the lack of urgency in the pace of negotiations to set a strike date.
“Without an end date, we could keep talking forever,” Loeb said in a statement. “Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”
A strike would be a serious setback for an industry that recently returned to work after long shutdowns from the pandemic and recurring aftershocks amid new outbreaks.
As in other industries, many people began to reassess their lives and the demands of their professions during the health crisis. And now that production is increasing again, union leaders say the “catch-up” is resulting in worse working conditions.
“People have reported that working conditions have deteriorated and worsened,” Jonas Loeb, IATSE communication director, told the AP last week. “And these 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers who are under these contracts are really at a breaking point.”
This would be the first nationwide strike in the 128-year history of the IATSE, whose members include cinematographers, camera operators, set designers, carpenters, hairdressers and makeup artists, entertainers and others.
Union members say they are forced to work excessive hours and are not given reasonable rest through meal breaks or enough time off between shifts. Leaders say the lowest paid artists receive unsustainable salaries. And streaming services like Netflix, Apple, and Amazon can pay even less under previous deals that allowed them more flexibility when they were just debuting.
“We continue to try to instill in employers the importance of our priorities, the fact that it is about human beings and that working conditions are about dignity, health and safety at work,” said Rebecca Rhine , National Executive Director of the Syndicate of Cinematographers, IATSE Local 600. “Health and safety issues, unsafe hours, no meal breaks, were the exception for many years in the industry, which is a tough industry. . But they have become the norm ”.
The union reported on October 4 that its members voted overwhelmingly to allow their president to authorize a strike, but negotiations, and hopes of avoiding a stoppage, resumed after the vote.
The Alliance of Film and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios and other entertainment companies in the negotiations, said its members value their team members and are committed to avoiding a shutdown. in an industry still in recovery. The AMPTP did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
“A strike is always difficult for everyone. Everyone suffers, it’s tough, but I believe our members have the will and determination to do what it takes to be heard and have their voices translate into real change in the industry, ”Rhine said. “What we learned from the pandemic is that employers can change the way they do business if they have an interest in doing so.”