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Where Things Stand On The Possible IATSE Strike In Hollywood

An image of rows of red seats in an empty, dimly-lit movie theater.
A long-term strike by below-the-line workers in Hollywood could impact the release of movies and TV shows.
(Kilyan Sockalingum on Unsplash)
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Its members are hardly as famous as the A-list names in the Screen Actors Guild.

But the union that represents Hollywood’s below-the-line workers — people such as editors, costume designers and cinematographers — still has a lot of clout. And a show business strike could be around the corner.

For months, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE, has been negotiating with television and film studios and producers over their collective bargaining agreement, which expired in July.

But the talks between IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have not yet yielded an agreement, and earlier this week union leaders asked IATSE’s roughly 150,000 members for a strike authorization vote. The guild has not been on strike since the 1940s.

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"They simply will not address the core issues we have repeatedly advocated for from the beginning," international union president Matthew D. Loeb told IATSE members on Monday. "As a result, we will now proceed with a nationwide strike authorization vote to demonstrate our commitment to achieving the change that is long overdue in this industry.”

The contract dispute hinges on wages, worker safety and overtime, and compensation tied to new distribution platforms such as streaming.

The producers' alliance said it offered IATSE a good package, considering what's happened to the business over the past few years.

“When we began negotiations with the IATSE months ago, we discussed the economic realities and the challenges facing the entertainment industry as we work to recover from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the producers' alliance said in a statement. “In choosing to leave the bargaining table to seek a strike authorization vote, the IATSE leadership walked away from a generous comprehensive package.”

The strike authorization vote is set for Oct. 1, and the results could come a few days later.

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John Horn covers the business of entertainment, examining what's next for Hollywood post pandemic.