Following many weeks of contentious meetings and tough negotiations, Hollywood union workers have decisively decided to authorize an industry-wide strike, which will halt film and television production.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE, announced over the weekend that 90 percent of 60,000 eligible voters voted in favor of strike authorization, with more than 98 percent in favor. In total, the union represents 150,000 crew workers in the United States and Canada. According to CNBC, this is the first time the union has authorized a strike in its 128-year history.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said 90% of eligible voters cast ballots over the weekend, with more than 98% in support of strike authorization.
“The members have spoken loud and clear,” Matthew Loeb, president of IATSE, said in a statement Monday. “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.″
The vote comes after months of failed negotiations between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major film and television production companies.
These demands follow one of the industry’s most turbulent periods, when productions battled a global pandemic to guarantee studios had content to provide to customers. In addition, the epidemic has permanently altered the production ecology. Consumers have been locked at home for the past 18 months, watching TV programs and movies.
This increase in viewership has resulted in enormous increases in subscriptions and subscription prices for streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video. It has also prompted these platforms to seek for additional material and increase their production volume. IATSE members have been asked to work longer hours as the number of projects has increased, but compensation has not kept pace, according to the union. The IATSE has also revealed that producers like Netflix, Amazon, Warner Bros. and Walt Disney refused to respond to its latest proposals after the union’s contract expired earlier this month.
‘This failure to continue negotiating can only be interpreted one way,’ the IATSE said in a statement Monday. ‘They simply will not address the core issues we have repeatedly advocated for from the beginning.
‘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 statement declared.
The contract affects more than 43,000 of workers in the film and entertainment industry, working in live theater, motion picture and television production, trade shows and exhibitions, television broadcasting, and concerts – as well as the equipment and construction shops that support those industries.
According to the Daily Mail, the AMPTP has been addressing the union’s demands, to no avail:
In a statement, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said it had ‘listened and addressed’ many of the union’s demands, including increasing minimum pay rates for certain types of new-media productions and footing the bill for a nearly $400-million pension and health-plan deficit.
‘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 organization said.
‘In choosing to leave the bargaining table to seek a strike authorization vote, the IATSE leadership walked away from a generous comprehensive package.’
If the union does elect to have a vote for a strike, and that vote is indeed successful, a widespread walkout by IATSE members will not necessary follow – but it does gives union leaders more wiggle-room in talks with studios, as they would then have the legal ability to cease work on productions at a crucial time.
This feels like little more than a last ditch attempt to get more blood from an already hemorrhaging industry. And yet I expect this will go to the very end, with the union eventually caving because Hollywood doesn’t have any extra money. Hollywood seems willfully bling to the real issue affecting the market. It isn’t pay scales or the cost of production. It’s that most of the films and projects they put out these days are garbage or woke or both. Add to that the fact that most of the producers and stars hate the audience anyway, their gross fealty to China, and box office sales are way, WAY down. Hollywood is on a trajectory of failure of their own making.
Maybe life without Hollywood for a little while would be better for all of us. Meanwhile, here is some advice for anyone out of a job when the strike takes place: learn to code.