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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Film TV workers union says strike to start next week


LOS ANGELES (AP) – The union representing film and television film crews says its 60,000 members will go on strike nationwide on Monday unless it reaches an agreement that satisfies fair and safe working conditions.

The strike would halt filming on a wide range of film and television programs and extend far beyond Hollywood, affecting filming in Georgia, New Mexico and other North American filming.

International Theater Workers Alliance International President Matthew Loeb said on Wednesday that the strike will begin at 12:01 pm on Monday, unless agreement is reached on rest and meal times and wages for the lowest paid workers.

Loeb cited the lack of urgency in negotiations to set a date for the strike.

“Without an end date, we could keep talking forever,” Loeb said in a statement. “Our members deserve to have their basic needs met now.”

The strike will be a major blow to the industry, which has recently returned to work after lengthy shutdowns due to the pandemic and repeated aftershocks amid new outbreaks.

“There are five days left to negotiate,” said Jarrid Gonzalez, a publicist for the group representing the studio. “The studios will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach agreement on a new contract that will allow the industry to operate.”

As with 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 picking up again, union leaders say “catching up” leads to worse working conditions.

“People are reporting worsening and worsening working conditions,” Jonas Loeb, director of public relations at IATSE, told AP last week. “And these 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers who work on these contracts have really reached their limit.”

This will be the first nationwide strike in the 128-year history of the IATSE, which includes filmmakers, cameramen, decorators, carpenters, hairdressers and makeup artists, animators and many more.

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Union members say they are forced to work overtime and are not given reasonable rest in the form of lunch breaks and sufficient breaks between shifts. Leaders say the lowest paid artisans receive indecent wages. And streamers like Netflix, Apple, and Amazon are allowed to pay even less under previous agreements, giving them more flexibility when they first started.

“We continue to try to convince employers of the importance of our priorities, that it is about people and that working conditions are about dignity, health and safety at work,” said Rebecca Rein, National Executive Director of the Guild of Filmmakers, IATSE Local 600. “ Health and safety concerns, unsafe working hours, no lunch breaks have all been the exception for many years in this tough industry. But what they have become is the norm. “

The union reported on October 4 that its members voted overwhelmingly to allow the president to authorize the strike, but negotiations and hopes of preventing a strike were resumed after the vote.

The Alliance of Film Producers and Television Producers, representing studios and other entertainment companies in the talks, said its members value their crew members and intend to avoid stopping in an industry that is still recovering.

“A strike is always hard for everyone. Everyone suffers, it’s hard, but I believe that our members have the will and determination to do what is needed to be heard and to have their voices transformed into real change in the industry, ”said Rhine. “What we’ve learned from the pandemic is that employers can change the way they do business if it’s in their best interest.”

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