The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) International President Matthew Loeb announced today that unless an agreement is reached, union members will begin a nationwide strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Monday, October 18 at 12:01 a.m., PDT.
IATSE represents over 150,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theatre, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada.
Loeb said the union will continue bargaining with the producers this week in the hopes of reaching an agreement that addresses core issues, such as reasonable rest periods, meal breaks, and a living wage for those on the bottom of the wage scale.
“However, the pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency,” Loeb said. “Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”
“Our members health, happiness and security is our main focus,” Brad Matthys, President of Studio Mechanics Local 476 Chicago told sister outlet, Reel Chicago. “We’re very concerned about the negotiations for our quality of life issues, and issues of setting pay for some of our negotiated wages, and the fact that our crews are working too many hours and too many days without days off. This has been an ongoing problem across the country and it’s the reason we lose some of our best technicians because they feel they have a right to a weekend off and time with their family.”
The subject of the large-scale streaming shows which until now has been unaddressed is a big point of the negotiation. “The streaming shows are massive,” said Matthys. “They’re on a par with a lot of features. They’re large in scope, large in crews, and the compensation needs to be better for these projects. The time has come to address this but the producers are seeing fit to not address it at all.”
“Everyone seems to be dug in on their position on this. We’re hoping that cooler heads will prevail and they can get to a position where they can bargain in good faith,” said Matthys. “The mechanics of what’s going on are quite confusing for the membership and for the union in a lot of instances. We’re wading through the information as it comes and trying to disseminate it as best we can for our members.”
Last week, IATSE members who work in television and film production at 36 IATSE local unions across the country voted to authorize the union’s international president to call a strike if contract talks didn’t result in a new contract for 60,000 film and television workers. Voter turnout was 90 percent, with 98.6 percent of those voting in support of authorizing a strike.