Last month, it seemed quite possible that the film industry could be completely shut down as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (or IATSE, for short) called for its members to vote on a strike authorization. Now, however, a strike almost seems imminent.
According to The Wrap, IATSE members have overwhelmingly voted in favor of a strike authorization, “giving the union new leverage when it returns to the negotiating table with studios on a new bargaining agreement.” The report states that of the IATSE’s reported 60,000 eligible voters, 90% showed up to cast their ballot this weekend, with a staggering 98% of the votes in favor of the strike.
BREAKING: IATSE Members in TV and Film Production Voted to Authorize the first nationwide industry strike in our 128-year history.
— IATSE // #VoteYES (@IATSE) October 4, 2021
While this vote doesn’t immediately start the proposed strike, it does increase pressure on the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to meet with the IATSE and accept the union’s terms in order to avoid the looming mass exodus of workers and, subsequently, the industry taking a fairly devastating blow. On an Action Network petition page, IATSE laid out the four issues they have with AMPTP and are hoping to find resolutions for, including: 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 workers on certain “new media” streaming projects get paid less, even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters. Following the vote, IATSE president Matthew Loeb released a statement on matter:
“The members have spoken loud and clear. This vote is about the quality of life as well as the health and safety of those who work in the film and television industry. Our people have basic human needs like time for meal breaks, adequate sleep, and a weekend. For those at the bottom of the pay scale, they deserve nothing less than a living wage.”
However, following the vote the AMPTP released a statement claiming that they already are addressing the union’s demands, citing “a proposal that included increases of 10-19% in minimum wages for 871 members, an average of 18% increase in minimums for certain new media productions, and covering the $400 million deficit in the IATSE Health Plan without raising premiums and other healthcare costs like deductibles and co-pays for dependents,” according to The Wrap. The alliance then expressed they are still “committed to reaching an agreement that will keep the industry working,” though it will require “both parties working together in good faith” to resolve their issues:
“The AMPTP remains committed to reaching an agreement that will keep the industry working. We deeply value our IATSE crew members and are committed to working with them to avoid shutting down the industry at such a pivotal time, particularly since the industry is still recovering from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. A deal can be made at the bargaining table, but it will require both parties working together in good faith with a willingness to compromise and to explore new solutions to resolve the open issues.”