(Los Angeles) A union representing American film and television artisans said its 60,000 members would go on a nationwide strike on Monday if they failed to reach a deal that meets the demands of 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 filming locations.
The International President of the International Alliance of Theatrical Employees (IATSE), Matthew Loeb, said on Wednesday that the strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, unless an agreement was reached on periods of rest and meals and on the remuneration of its lowest-paid workers.
Mr Loeb cited a lack of urgency in the pace of negotiations as the reason that a strike date was set.
“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 represent a serious setback for an industry that has recently returned to work after long pandemic shutdowns.
“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 keep the industry working. “
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” leads to worse working conditions.
“People have reported that working conditions are getting worse and worse,” Jonas Loeb, IATSE communications director, told The Associated Press 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 wages they cannot live on. And platforms like Netflix, Apple and Amazon are allowed to pay even less under previous deals that allowed them more flexibility when they hit the market.
“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 Director of the Filmmakers Guild, IATSE Local 600. “Health and safety issues, unsafe hours, not taking a break for meals have been the exception for many years in the industry, which is a tough industry. But they have now become 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 the workers on their team and are committed to avoiding a work stoppage in an industry still in revival.
“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 Mme 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. “