Film and Television Workers in the United States Demand a Fair Deal

Action by IATSE members in Burbank, California, October 3, 2021

Sixty thousand behind-the-scenes film and TV workers in the United States who are represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE) are mobilizing to ensure Hollywood studios and streaming companies provide the crews who produce their content with reasonable rest, sustainable benefits, and living wages.

After months of negotiating successor contracts to the Producer-IATSE Basic Agreement and the Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Area Standards Agreement, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents major film and television production companies, announced it does not intend to make any counter-offer to IATSE's most recent proposal. In response, IATSE obtained a massive strike vote with 89.66 per cent turnout -- 53,411 total votes, and a 98.68 per cent yes vote -- 52,706 yes votes.

IATSE reports that throughout the bargaining process, the AMPTP "has failed to work with us on addressing the most grievous problems in their workplaces, 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.
- Workers on certain "new media" streaming projects getting paid less, even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters."

IATSE points out that the AMPTP is "an ensemble that includes media mega-corporations collectively worth trillions of dollars." It does not accept its claims that "it cannot provide behind-the-scenes crews with basic human necessities like adequate sleep, meal breaks, and living wages. Worse, management does not appear to even recognize our core issues as problems that exist in the first place."

IATSE says, "These issues are real for the workers in our industry, and change is long overdue. However, 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."

IATSE was founded in 1893 when representatives of stagehands working in eleven cities met in New York and pledged to support each other's efforts to establish fair wages and working conditions for their members. Today it works in all forms of live theater, motion picture and television production, trade shows and exhibitions, television broadcasting, and concerts as well as the equipment and construction shops that support all these areas of the entertainment industry.

IATSE says, "We are more than 150,000 workers strong in virtually all arts, media, and entertainment crafts, and our mission is to improve all entertainment workers' lives both inside and outside the workplace."

(Photos: IATSE, C. Fiorini)

This article was published in

October 8, 2021 - No. 93

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