IATSE sets strike start date if deal can’t be reached

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Several key IATSE locals are set to strike at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, unless the terms of a new contract with AMPTP can be hashed out before then.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have been working without a contract since July 31, 2021 — and the two sides can’t come to an agreement on, among other issues, rest and meal periods and pay for some of the lowest earners.

IATSE is a union that represents a myriad of behind the scenes workers on TV and film productions, while AMPTP is a consortium that represents over 350 production companies in, among other things, union negotiations.

A strike would affect productions in Hollywood, including ones from the major motion picture studios including Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros., U.S. broadcast TV networks, Netflix and select cable TV production companies.

A strike would affect 13 locals: Locals 44, 80, 600, 695, 700, 705, 706, 728, 729, 800, 871, 884 and 892. Locals 600, 700 and 800 are national and a strike would affect productions in other parts of North America (in union lingo, the term “local” can refer to a geographic region, but some locals exist to represent workers in a specific craft instead).

The strike would not affect local news productions, as these are covered under separate union contracts, typically with local station management.

While the sides still have about five days to reach a deal, IATSE feels there’s been a lack of urgency in negotiations and cited that as a reason for setting a strike date.

Its membership already voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, but that doesn’t necessarily trigger a strike immediately — or at all.

Another big issue at play is the increase in streaming production — which the expired deal classifies as “new media” and therefore these don’t pay as well in most cases.

Other issues include working conditions, which many workers have said have continued to worsen, especially as the film and TV industry attempts to make up for lost time due to the pandemic. Other common complaints include health and safety protocol issues as well as how some of the lowest paid workers cannot make, according to union leaders, a living wage.

Meanwhile, the union argues, executives at media companies are being paid tens of millions of dollars in salaries.

AMPTP says it will continue to negotiate in “good faith.”

If a strike is called, it would be the first nationwide strike for IATSE in its 128 years. Approximately 60,000 workers would be affected, and IATSE says it’s unlikely studios could find replacements for them quickly.