By Don McIntosh
For the first time in the 128-year history of International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), members have authorized a strike at film and television productions nationwide. Altogether, 53,411 members in 36 locals voted—a turnout of 90%. And 98.7% of them voted to authorize a strike, the union announced Oct. 4. From set designers and prop makers to gaffers and set painters, the workers are indispensable in film and television production.
In contract negotiations with the employer group Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, IATSE is demanding an end to the special lower pay rates for productions aimed at streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Apple+. Members agreed to lower rates when streaming was in its infancy, but now that it’s the dominant mode, IATSE says it’s past time for that concession to end. IATSE also wants an end to extreme forced overtime that’s wrecking members’ health and family lives. The Instragram account @ia_stories has posted over 1,000 examples, including routinely missed meal breaks, 16 hour workdays, and worse.
“I hope that the studios will see and understand the resolve of our members,” said IATSE president Matthew Loeb in a press statement.
The strike will begin on Oct. 18 if no deal has been reached by then, IATSE announced Oct. 13.