More than 60,000 people who work behind the scenes in American cinema and television began voting on Friday on whether to give their union a strike mandate, which could lead to a mass walkout and the greater disruption of Hollywood production since the 1940s.
The vote was announced after months of stalled talks between the International Alliance of Theatrical Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance of Film and Television Producers (AMPTP) over two agreements covering U.S. film and television productions.
The union is negotiating for better quality of life conditions – longer breaks during a workday, arrangements for rotating shifts and ensuring that members do not have to work so many consecutive hours on the job. plateau they run out.
Messages from trade unionists, written anonymously, poured in via social networks, describing difficult working conditions.
âI was the prop master on a big budget network show. Exhausted, cycling home from the stage one evening, I was hit by a car and my neck was broken and several vertebrae were cracked. “writes a worker on the ia_stories Instagram feed.
“My first thought when I woke up in the hospital was that I had to go to work the next day for a big stunt scene.”
The contract dispute has drawn union support from a number of celebrities, including Josh Ruben, Seth Rogan, Ben Stiller and Lily Tomlin.
I just spent 9 months working with an incredibly hard-working team of filmmakers under very difficult conditions. Support them fully in the struggle for better conditions.#IATSE
Our films and films literally wouldn’t exist without our teams, and our teams deserve better. pic.twitter.com/hFMCmWzUVT
“It’s all about mental and physical well-being, and just long, long hours of work,” IATSE Director of Canadian Affairs John Lewis told CBC News.
The union is also fighting for the streaming residue and higher wages for its lowest paid workers.
He wants fair compensation for teams working on shows for online streaming services, Lewis said, after “most unions and guilds took discounts to allow studios to establish this new genre or platform. -production form, and now it’s well established with big budgets. And we don’t think these discounts are necessary or appropriate anymore. “
Today, workers in certain ânew mediaâ streaming projects are still paid less, even on productions whose budgets rival or exceed those of traditional blockbusters.
Although Canadian union members will not be affected by the possible strike authorization, there could be headaches for some American productions in Canada if a strike were to take place.
There are usually “a handful” of American crew members who work north of the border on American film or television projects and are covered by one of two collective agreements, Lewis said.
âIt is rare to have no American crew, in particular [on] higher budget American productions. “
IATSE hopes the strike mandate vote will get the studios to come back to the table and negotiate, he added.
“If – and we hope it doesn’t come to that – there is a work stoppage, it could have an impact on some productions in Canada.”
He said his office had not yet heard when a strike could take place, if union members allowed a walkout.
Producers addressed “economic realities”
AMPTP disputes the union’s claim that the alliance negotiated in bad faith.
“AMPTP has presented a comprehensive deal-making proposal that significantly addresses the main negotiating issues of IATSE,” he said in a statement.
âWhen we began negotiations with IATSE a few months ago, we discussed the economic realities and challenges facing the entertainment industry as we strive to recover from the economic fallout from the COVID pandemic. -19. “
The strike authorization requires 75% of “yes”
Union members vote until Sunday evening and the results are expected to be announced on Monday. IATSE represents a wide range of workers in creative positions, including cinematographers, costume and set designers, and hairdressers and makeup artists.
The threshold for passing the strike authorization is a “yes” of 75 percent.
The IATSE also has the support of 118 members of the US Congress, who signed a letter sent Thursday to the leader of the industry alliance, claiming that “these workers risked their health while working during the COVID-19 pandemic To keep film and television productions going, and they are entitled to “adequate sleep, meal breaks and a living wage.”