October 22, 2021

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The largest private-sector strike in a decade could shut down Hollywood

A man enters the union offices of The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 80, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Burbank, Calif. The IATSE overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike for the first time in its 128-year history. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

The largest private-sector strike in a decade could shut down Hollywood

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Last week, as the authorization vote loomed, 120 members of Congress, led by Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Alex Padilla, wrote a letter urging the AMPTP to negotiate and come to a fair agreement. 

Noting the workers’ sacrifice during the COVID-19 pandemic and their “essential role” in helping the industry survive, the lawmakers wrote, “The key issues in this negotiation, as we’ve come to understand them, are about worker dignity and basic human necessities. We are united in our belief in the importance of livable wages, sustainable benefits, and reasonable rest periods between shifts and during the workday.”

The IATSE workers who could be involved in a strike include a vast range of jobs: cinematographers, operators, grips, editors, costumers, writers assistants, hairstylists, makeup artists, art directors, set medics, warehouse workers, script supervisors, electrical lighting technicians, and more. And they’re all over the country, not just in Hollywood.

The workers are calling on the studios to treat “new media” as it now is: media, no longer a new and unstable format requiring workers to make concessions. Netflix can afford to pay its workers a decent wage. 

IATSE members are also calling for reasonable rest—basically a night’s rest and weekend breaks so they don’t fall asleep at the wheel on their way home for an inadequate amount of sleep before starting work again, and actual meal breaks during those 12+ hour days. And they need the pensions and health coverage they’ve worked for to remain secure and available to them for years to come.

If this strike happens, it will be Hollywood’s largest since World War II and the largest private-sector strike in any industry in over a decade. But the best outcome here would be if the AMPTP looks at the strike authorization vote and coughs up a fair contract right away.

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