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Arts and Entertainment

Hollywood Union Members Overwhelmingly Authorize A Strike

A plaque for IATSE.
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Moviegoers rarely stick around for the credits at the end of a film. But all those crew members would like more notice — including from Hollywood itself, in the form of a new contract. And in a new union vote that overwhelmingly authorized a strike, they may walk out if they don’t get it.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE, is a union that represents 60,000 below-the-line Hollywood workers who make costumes, apply makeup, operate cameras and edit footage, among other jobs.

For months, IATSE and television and film producers have failed to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

On Monday, IATSE members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, with more than 98% of its members giving negotiators the right to order a work stoppage. The guild’s members primarily want better and safer work conditions and higher wages.

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“The members have spoken loud and clear,” Matthew Loeb, the IATSE president, said in a statement. “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.”

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.
— Matthew Loeb, IATSE president

It’s the first time in IATSE’s 128-year history the guild has voted for a nationwide strike. It’s unclear how the vote will affect negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the bargaining unit for studios, networks, streaming services and independent producers.

The organization said in a statement:

“The AMPTP 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."

“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.”

Like any good Hollywood cliffhanger, how this all plays out — walkout or deal? — is far from certain.

Yet the historic IATSE strike vote does make it clear that a lot of members are saying, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

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