Following a historic vote on Sunday (October 3), the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) is expected to return Tuesday (October 5) to the bargaining table with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the association representing TV networks, streamers and studios.
The vote in favor of strike action doesn’t necessarily mean such action will take place, but it sends a powerful message that the production crew union members — 90% of which turned out to vote, with 98.6% voting to authorize a strike. — overwhelmingly support such a move if satisfactory terms aren’t negotiated for three expired contracts: the Hollywood Basic Agreement, the Area Standards Agreement and the Videotape Electronics Supplemental Agreement.
The Hollywood Basic Agreement covers 13 locals on the West Coast of the U.S., or somewhere between 40,000 to 45,000 members, while the Area Agreement covers 23 locals outside of Los Angeles County and covers between 10,000 and 15,000 members. Both of those contracts expired on September 10, while the Videotape Agreement — which impacts unscripted television content ranging from reality TV to talk shows, game shows and entertainment/variety programming — expired on September 30.
The production union is specifically calling attention to what it deems as unsafe working hours, compensation for work on projects for streaming platforms, a lack of adequate rest periods for meals or sleep, and “unlivable wages for the lowest-paid crafts,” among other grievances.
“The members have spoken loud and clear,” said IATSE International president Matthew Loeb in a statement following the vote. “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 AMPTP, meanwhile, issued its own statement to the trades following the vote, which read: “The AMPTP remains committed to reaching an agreement that will keep the industry working. We deeply value our IATSE crew members and are committed to working with them to avoid shutting down the industry at such a pivotal time, particularly since the industry is still recovering from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A deal can be made at the bargaining table, but it will require both parties working together in good faith with a willingness to compromise and to explore new solutions to resolve the open issues,” it continued.
A strike would impact a sizable portion of programming and Hollywood films, but a Premium Cable Agreement covering shows made for HBO, Showtime and Starz channels is still in effect. Shows made for HBO Max, meanwhile, are still vulnerable to strike action.