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Hollywood’s below-the-line workers authorize historic strike vote

IATSE strike / Illustration by Kate Walker.

Hollywood’s below-the-line workers authorize historic strike vote


The Future. A landmark contract negotiation between the union, representing film and TV crews (IATSE), and representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has reached a new level: IATSE members have voted to strike. If the studios can’t reach an agreement, almost all film and TV production will come to a halt….which could significantly impact how much content will be available to watch next year.

Food, sleep, and weekends….oh my!
International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) are fed up with not having basic protections for basic needs.

  • After months of negotiations with studios on a new working contract, 98% of the IATSE (59,478 members) voted to authorize a strike if a new deal wasn’t reached with the AMPTP (those representing the studios and streamers.)
  • If the union calls a strike, the majority of production work in the U.S. would immediately come to a stop — which could mean no movies and no shows.
  • It would be the first strike in the union’s 128-year history.

So, what exactly do IATSE members want? Well, to name just a few basic requests…

  • Limits on insanely long working days (some shoot days can exceed 18 hours).
  • Adequate time off between work days, on weekends, and for lunch.
  • No more reduced wages for projects that fall under the classification of “new media,” i.e., streaming services.

Meanwhile, the AMPTP is in the business of saving the studios as much money as possible (admittedly, a top goal of any company).

No grease in the machine
Numerous actors, writers, and directors (and their unions) have voiced their support for IATSE, especially as #IAStories trends across socials. The hashtag is being used to share countless anonymous stories of on-set worker abuse and dangerous working conditions.

While talks have been stalled for weeks, the contract negotiations have caught the attention of powerful people outside of Hollywood. Over 100 Democratic lawmakers recently signed a letter of support for IATSE, knowing that the effects of a production shutdown would hurt local economies all across the country.

In the wake of the strike authorization vote, the AMPTP has decided to resume talks with IATSE today. Stay tuned.