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Film, TV production workers authorize nationwide strike

By Don Jacobson
Film, TV production workers authorize nationwide strike
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees authorized the first strike in its 128-year history. File Photo by Elsa0422/Wikimedia Commons

Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Members of the union representing 60,000 television and film production workers have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a nationwide strike, union officials announced Monday.

Results from the weekend vote by members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees showed more than 98% supported a strike authorization, leaders said.

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Nearly 90% of the union's membership turned out in the vote to authorize a strike for the first time in IATSE's 128-year history.

"I hope that the studios will see and understand the resolve of our members," IATSE International President Matthew Loeb said in a statement. "The ball is in their court. If they want to avoid a strike, they will return to the bargaining table and make us a reasonable offer."

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Union members, he added, "have spoken loud and clear" in the vote that was 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."

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The union held the vote after contract negotiations with film and television producers represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke down last month.

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Studios have resisted the union's demands, citing increased costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are instead seeking financial concessions from workers. The industry group says it has agreed to increase minimum pay rates for some types of productions and to fill a $400 million hole in the union's pension plan.

"In choosing to leave the bargaining table to seek a strike authorization vote, the IATSE leadership walked away from a generous comprehensive package," the AMPTP said in a statement issued to Variety last month.

The main sticking points, however, appear to revolve around "quality of life" issues, including "basic human necessities" like adequate sleep, meal breaks and living wages for the lowest-paid crafts, the union says.

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Management, IATSE says, "does not appear to even recognize our core issues as problems that exist in the first place."

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