If an agreement is not reached that meets demands for fair and safe working conditions, the union representing film and television workers says its 60,000 members would go on strike on Monday.
A strike would put a stop to filming on a wide range of film and television projects, affecting shoots in Georgia, New Mexico, and other parts of North America.
The walkout will start at 12:01 a.m. Monday unless an agreement is made on rest and lunch intervals, as well as compensation for the lowest-paid employees, according to International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees International President Matthew Loeb.
For choosing a striking date, Loeb blamed a lack of urgency in the pace of discussions.
“Without a deadline, we could chat for the rest of our lives,” Loeb said in a statement. “Our members have earned the right to have their fundamental necessities met right now.”
A strike would be a major setback for a sector that has only just resumed operations following extended pandemic shutdowns and recurrent aftershocks in the wake of fresh breakouts.
Jarryd Gonzales, a spokesperson for the studios’ representative organization, stated, “There are five entire days remaining to reach a settlement.” “Studios will continue to negotiate in good faith in the hopes of reaching a new deal that will keep the business afloat.”
During the epidemic, many behind-the-scenes workers, like those in other sectors, began reevaluating their lifestyles and the demands of their jobs. Now that production has resumed, union officials claim that the “catch-up” is causing harsher working conditions.
Last week, Jonas Loeb, the IATSE’s head of communication, told the Associated Press that “people have experienced working conditions worsening and being exacerbated.” “And these 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers who are covered by these contracts are at the end of their rope.”
It would be the first countrywide strike in the IATSE’s 128-year history, which includes cinematographers, camera operators, set designers, carpenters, hair and makeup artists, animators, and others.
Members of the union claim that employees are pushed to work excessive hours and are not provided adequate relaxation through meal breaks and time off between shifts. Leaders claim that the lowest-paid crafts are paid inhumanely low salaries. Streamers such as Netflix, Apple, and Amazon are permitted to pay even less under prior deals that gave them more leeway when they were first starting out.
Rebecca Rhine, national executive director of the Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600, said, “We’ve continued to try to impress upon the employers the importance of our priorities, the fact that this is about human beings, and the working conditions are about dignity and health and safety at work.” “For many years in the business, which is a difficult job, health and safety concerns, dangerous hours, and not stopping for meals were the uncommon.” But they’ve become the standard.”
The union announced on Oct. 4 that its members had decisively voted to authorize its president to strike, although discussions and hopes of avoiding a walkout resumed following the vote.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and other entertainment businesses in talks, said its members appreciate their crew workers and are dedicated to avoiding a shutdown in an industry that is still rebuilding.
“Everyone finds a strike to be tough. Everyone suffers, and it’s difficult, but I believe our members have the will and will to do whatever it takes to be heard and have their views translated into real change in the business,” Rhine said. “What we learned from the epidemic is that if it’s in their best interests, employers can modify the way they conduct business.”