International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union President Matthew Loeb announced on Wednesday that the union would go on strike Monday unless a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture Television Producers (AMPTP) in the next five days.
The IATSE have been demanding pay and quality of life improvements, pension and health fund improvements, changes to the amount of hours and breaks on set such as longer meal breaks and longer weekend rest periods, and setting pay scales for productions associated with streaming services and other New Media.
Last week, the IATSE, which has majority Californian membership along with smaller chapters in other film heavy states such as Georgia, New York, and New Mexico, voted in favor of a strike by a huge 98.7% percentage, or 52,706 out of 53,411 voting members.
Back at the bargaining tables, studios offered a new deal including giving into some demands like weekend rest breaks and more break times. However the IATSE rejected this and countered, leading to a standstill with both sides refusing to budge on several key areas.
With negotiations between the union and television and movie producers not progressing fast enough, Loeb set an ultimatum to create an urgency to resolve the matter soon.
“We 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,” Loeb said in a tweet Wednesday. “The pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency. Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”
We 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. #IASolidarity
— Matthew D. Loeb (@matthewloeb) October 13, 2021
The IATSE also backed up Loeb’s strike date on their website, even including a running counter ticking off the seconds until a strike will occur, with IATSE members also receiving a text telling them to prepare to picket.
“Local IA leadership just got out of a meeting with Loeb,” said the IATSE in a member text on Tuesday. “Tomorrow mid afternoon eastern time he is going to make an announcement that AMPTP has until Monday 18th at 12:01 am to make us a better offer. Leadership advised me to tell members to get your kits tidy this week. Be prepared to work on Monday but also be prepared to picket/walk off.”
In response, the AMPTP has said that there is plenty of time to reach a deal and that they would act in good faith to reach a deal.
“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,” said the AMPTP in a statement on Wednesday.
A looming nationwide strike
With a strike looking more likely each day, many studios are now looking at the possibility of most or all of its productions being halted next week. California would be most affected, with a studio shutdown affecting peripheral businesses across the state. Food services, hotels, rental companies, and several areas out side of the entertainment industry will likely face fewer customers, not to mention many people working for the studios likely being unable to work unless it is resolved.
“We can’t afford a strike right now,” an AMPTP member told the Globe on Friday, requesting anonymity. “We’re still getting over the COVID shutdowns. Another one would mean so much money lost. not to mention less new shows and movies for an upcoming stretch. I can’t really say that I know how this is all going to come out, but I do know that a lot of people on both sides are not going to move on some issues, so it could be awhile.”
Some business owners in Southern California, such as Molly Cordova, who helps provide rental houses for movie and TV shoots in the San Fernando Valley, said that a strike would be devastating. “California has actually been bringing back more and more productions back to California in recent years,” Cordova told the Globe. “This is why every Californian, city or urban, red or blue, young and old should be concerned. They pump a lot of money into the state through things like taxes, but also keeping businesses like mine going. If the strike happens, it will hurt everyone in the state in some way. It could be directly like me or it could lead to the reduction of services somewhere due to a county not getting an expected chunk of movie shoot spending. Other states are affected too, but the big loser here would be California.”
Should a strike go ahead, the IATSE will announce it on October 18th at 12:01 A.M.