President of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Matthew Loeb, announced that unless changes are made to union members’ hours and working conditions, 60,000 members will begin a nationwide strike on October 18 at midnight, according to Variety. Union members argue that a surge in production over the last ten years have resulted in dangerous situations on set and are demanding better conditions.
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Specifically, union members are hoping for a 10-hour turnaround between shifts, as well as a 54-hour turnaround on weekends. In addition, they are demanding increased meal penalties – a method to force sets to pause production for lunch – and end discounted rates for streaming services.
The studios will reportedly continue bargaining, hoping to avoid a strike that could halt production across the U.S., according to a statement made by a spokesperson for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. “There are five days left to reach a deal, and the studios will continue to negotiate in good faith in an effort to reach an agreement for a new contract that will keep the industry working,” they said.
Still, IATSE has received support from some other entertainment industry unions, as well as members of Congress. The president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Liz Shuler, swore to provide broader labor resources to negotiations if the IATSE ends up going on strike.
“We will stand with them in solidarity. We will use the full breadth and power of the labor movement to make sure that these companies are feeling the pain,” she said. “And we have lots of levers that we can use in the labor movement, whether it’s the bully pulpit, whether it’s using our shareholder capital strategies lever, or just getting those bodies out in the streets to support them.”
United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to social media to express her support of the movement, while actors like Hilarie Burton (One Tree Hill) and Jeffrey Wright (What If…?) have also publicly announced their solidarity with the union members.
FULL support and solidarity to @IATSE workers in their vote to authorize a strike.
90% turnout with 98% voting yes is an incredible accomplishment. It’s exactly the kind of mass-movement organizing we need right now.
May your example inspire others! Stay strong💪🏽 we’re with you https://t.co/QUVv0dX0P0
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 4, 2021
— Hilarie Burton Morgan (@HilarieBurton) October 4, 2021
“The vote passed with 98 % support and 90 % turnout.”
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) October 4, 2021