IATSE Announces Nationwide Strike to Begin Monday If Producers, Studios Deal Doesn’t Happen

IATSE President Matthew Loeb announced in plain and simple terms where the IATSE/ AMPTP negotations stand, and he did so on his Twitter account this morning…

I am announcing that unless an agreement is reached, 60,000 @IATSE film and tv workers 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. #IASolidarity

If a deal cannot be reached with AMPTP by October 18th, then its members will strike. Both parties however will continue negotiations throughout this week.

IATSE President Matthew Loeb said further in a statement, “Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”

As reported in Deadline, “The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers issued a statement Wednesday in response to IATSE’s strike date, saying, ‘There are five whole days left to reach a deal, and the studios will continue to negotiate in good faith in an effort to reach an agreement for a new contract that will keep the industry working.'”

The Countdown to Monday

The union has started a “strike clock” that you can see here.

And now it simply comes down to the negotiations between union and AMPTP leaders. With Chicago in the midst of a record-breaking year of television production, and with IATSE (aka the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) representing over 140,000 technicians, artisans, and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, any sort of labor discord or halt could have a massive impact on the Illinois industry and economy.

It is important to note the current national contract negotiations impact the Film & TV industry, excluding paid TV agreements with HBO, Starz, Showtime, and the IATSE National Low Budget Agreement.  It does NOT impact the commercial advertising industry which operates under a separate AICP negotiated contract.

What IATSE Is Asking for from AMPTP

Here is IATSE’s initial statement, outlining the conflict at hand. “After months of negotiating successor contracts to the Producer-IATSE Basic Agreement, and the Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Area Standard Agreement, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) announced it does not intend to make any counteroffer to the IATSE’s most recent proposal.

Throughout the bargaining process, the AMPTP has failed to work with us on addressing the most grievous problems in their workplaces, including:

  • Excessively unsafe and harmful working hours.
  • Unlivable wages for the lowest paid crafts.
  • Consistent failure to provide reasonable rest during meal breaks, between workdays, and on weekends.
  • Workers on certain “new media” streaming projects get paid less, even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters.

It is incomprehensible that the AMPTP, an ensemble that includes media mega-corporations collectively worth trillions of dollars, claims it cannot provide behind-the-scenes crews with basic human necessities like adequate sleep, meal breaks, and living wages. Worse, management does not appear to even recognize our core issues as problems that exist in the first place.

These issues are real for the workers in our industry and change is long overdue. However, the explosion of streaming combined with the pandemic has elevated and aggravated working conditions, bringing 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers covered by these contracts to a breaking point. We risked our health and safety all year, working through the Pandemic to ensure that our business emerged intact. Now, we cannot and will not accept a deal that leaves us with an unsustainable outcome.

In response to the AMPTP’s tactics, IATSE members are mobilizing in preparation for a nationwide strike authorization vote to demonstrate our commitment to achieving the change that is long overdue in this industry.”

What the AMPTP Has to Say

In a statement released to the Los Angeles Times, 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 some types of new media productions and covering 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 producers group said. “In choosing to leave the bargaining table to seek a strike authorization vote, the IATSE leadership walked away from a generous comprehensive package.”

Check back here at SCREEN Magazine for updates in the days ahead.

Photo credit: @runolgarun on Twitter

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