LOS ANGELES - The union that represents some 60,000 film and television workers set a strike deadline of Monday at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, putting pressure on producers to get a deal done and avoid a shutdown of many Hollywood films and television shows.
Union members are known as "below the line" workers which include production assistants, grips, department coordinators, writers and editing assistants, cinematographers, and so forth – the muscle behind the productions on major TV and films.
Matthew Loeb, the president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees International, announced that unless an agreement is reached, union members will begin a nationwide strike against the Alliance of Motion Pictures Producers on Monday.
Loeb said the union will continue bargaining with the producers this week to reach agreements that address core issues, such as reasonable rest periods, meal breaks, and a living wage for those on the bottom of the wage scale.
A strike would mean a pause on production. It would affect much more than actors and writers, but also local businesses that depend on those productions… from restaurants to dry cleaners.
The union is calling it a human rights issue, since a big point of contention are long working hours and short turnarounds that go with production that has multiplied with the many outlets showing material. There’s also payment for streaming services, which is a whole new element for both sides.
"However, the pace of bargaining doesn't reflect any sense of urgency," Loeb said in a release. "Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now."
IATSE members who work in television and film production at 36 IATSE local unions across the country -- including 13 on the West Coast -- voted over the weekend of Oct. 1-3 to authorize the union's president to call a strike if contract talks didn't result in a new contract for the 60,000 film and television workers.
Voter turnout was 90%, with 98.6% of those voting in support of authorizing a strike.
The union represents "below the line" workers such as production and department coordinators, writers' assistants, cinematographers, costumers, grips, script supervisors, technicians, designers and others.
In response to the vote, the AMPTP released a statement, saying it "remains committed to reaching an agreement that will keep the industry working.
"We deeply value our IATSE crew members and are committed to working with them to avoid shutting down the industry at such a pivotal time, particularly since the industry is still recovering from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic," the producers' statement said.
"A deal can be made at the bargaining table, but it will require both parties working together in good faith with a willingness to compromise and to explore new solutions to resolve the open issues."
Earlier this month, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, joined with 118 U.S. senators and House members in sending a letter to the AMPTP, urging the association to negotiate collaboratively and in good faith.
The letter followed an action by the Los Angeles City Council, in which four council members introduced a motion urging the AMPTP and the union representing skilled crew and craftspeople to bargain in good faith and come to an agreement. A vote by council members was not immediately scheduled.
Councilman Mitch O'Farrell and Councilwoman Nithya Raman, whose districts include parts of Hollywood, said they stood behind the union members.
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