IATSE calls for historic strike approval vote

The leaders of the International Alliance of Theatralical Stage Employees are calling on tens of thousands of entertainment workers to authorize them to call a strike.

Union leaders said in a statement Monday that they would ask their members to agree to a so-called strike permit vote.

The extraordinary move comes after four months of increasingly bitter talks between the union and the alliance of film and television producers, who were unable to reach an agreement on a new contract.

According to IATSE, producers including Netflix, Amazon, Warner Bros. and Walt Disney refused to respond to their latest proposals after the union’s contract expired earlier this month.

“This failure to continue negotiations can only be interpreted in one direction,” the IATSE negotiating committee said in a statement on Monday. “You will simply not address the core issues for which we have always campaigned from the start. As a result, we will now hold a nationwide strike approval vote to demonstrate our commitment to long-overdue change in this industry. “

The deal affects more than 43,000 film and entertainment industry workers who are pushing for better rest times, better wages, streaming leftovers to match other distribution channels, and higher health and pension contributions. The union is also negotiating a deal that will affect an additional 17,000 members who work in feature film and television production outside the Los Angeles and New York areas.

Those 60,000 members could be asked to cast their vote as early as October 1, with the results tabulated on October 4, said a person with knowledge of the process who was not empowered to comment.

The studios have defied union demands, citing the costs they have incurred in the COVID-19 pandemic. They are looking for union concessions, such as removing the fines they have to pay for crews missing lunch breaks and increasing the number of hours to be eligible for health care.

In a statement, the Film and Television Producers Alliance said it had “heard and taken up” many of the union’s demands, including raising minimum wage rates for some types of new media productions and covering a pension and health insurance deficit of nearly $ 400 million U.S. dollar .

“When we started negotiations with the IATSE months ago, we discussed the economic realities and challenges facing the entertainment industry as we work to recover from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Producer group. “With the decision to leave the negotiating table to request a vote on the strike permit, the IATSE leadership has said goodbye to a generous overall package.”

While a positive strike vote does not mean there will be a strike, it may give union leaders more bargaining power by threatening to shut down productions at a crucial time.

The producers are furiously trying to revise productions delayed by the pandemic and feed their new streaming platforms.

IATSE rarely has showdowns with producers compared to other unions in the entertainment industry. Hollywood crews have not carried out a strike or major strike on an event known as “Hollywood’s Bloody Friday” since World War II.

Voting, which is done electronically, requires the approval of 75% of all ballots received and a simple majority of the delegates in the negotiating unit.

The locals prepared the members by asking them to be updated on their posts and registering emails.

Actors like Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin shared their support for the union on social media, as did showrunners like Joe Henderson from Netflix’s “Lucifer” and Tze Chun from HBO Max’s “Gremlins”.

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