Hollywood Workers Vote to Authorize StrikeOctober 4, 2021
LOS ANGELES — Hollywood moved closer to a production shutdown on Monday after one of the film and television industry’s lower-profile unions said that members had overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said that 90 percent of eligible members cast online votes between Friday and Sunday; nearly 99 percent of the votes were in favor of a strike. The union represents some 150,000 crew members in the United States and Canada: camera operators, cinematographers, script coordinators, prop makers, set builders, editors, makeup artists and other behind-the-scenes specialists. About 60,000 members are covered by the contract being renegotiated with studios.
The previous three-year contract expired in July. Renewal negotiations started in May and stalled on Sept. 20, when the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — a bargaining entity for studios, including Amazon, Apple and Netflix — declined to counter the union’s most recent proposal. IATSE, as the union is known (or sometimes just I.A.), wants better pay for streaming-service work; higher wages for coordinators and assistants on all productions; longer rest periods between shifts and on weekends; and strengthened requirements for meal breaks during marathon shoots.
“I hope that the studios will see and understand the resolve of our members,” Matthew Loeb, the union’s president, said in a statement. “The ball is in their court. If they want to avoid a strike, they will return to the bargaining table and make us a reasonable offer.”
Within hours, studios had agreed to additional negotiations, which will begin on Tuesday.
Crews last walked off the job in 1945, when many stage workers were represented by a now-defunct organization called the Conference of Studio Unions. Back then, IATSE was controlled by the Chicago Mafia, which studios bribed to thwart labor unrest.
Some media analysts believe that Hollywood is overdue for a major union action. Since the 1940s, the entertainment industry has been upended roughly once a decade by a strike, with advances in technology often the cause. The most recent was in 2007, when the Writers Guild of America staged a 100-day walkout over pay for “new media,” as online shows and film downloads were then called. The strike’s ripple effects cost the California economy $2.1 billion and 37,700 jobs.
On Friday, 120 members of Congress, including Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the Senate majority leader, sent a letter to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers urging the negotiation of a “fair” contract. “Failure to reach an agreement would threaten not only the livelihoods of these workers, but also their family members who rely upon work in your industry, sending shock waves throughout the U.S. economy,” the letter said.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said on Monday that it hoped to reach an agreement for a new…