New York, NY – On Monday, October 4, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced that 60,000 members who work in television and film production voted to grant IATSE International President Matthew Loeb the authority to call a strike. Ninety-percent of eligible union voters cast ballots, with more than 98 percent of them in support of strike authorization.
IATSE represents over 150,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theater, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada.
The union laid out the nature of its grievances, saying,
“It is incomprehensible that the AMPTP, an ensemble that includes media mega-corporations collectively worth trillions of dollars, claims 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.
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.”
According to IATSE, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers 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 get paid less, even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters.
Previous to the vote, Loeb said, “[T]here’s no good argument for not giving workers rest and meal breaks. There’s no good argument for asking people to work full time without providing them with enough compensation to make ends meet.”
A strike, if called, would be the first in IATSE’s 128-year history.
“The members have spoken loud and clear,” said Loeb, after the vote was announced. “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.”