Why Hollywood Workers Are Threatening A Massive Strike

Roughly 60,000 movie and tv employees in Los Angeles and different cities plan to stroll off the job early Monday if the main studios don’t supply a passable union contract earlier than then. It can be the most important strike to hit the U.S. personal sector in 14 years.

Matthew Loeb, the president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE), mentioned his members hope it doesn’t come to that. But after 5 months of negotiations, he mentioned it was essential to set a deadline and pressure the studios’ hand.

“Otherwise you’re kicking the can down the road,” mentioned Loeb, who spoke with HuffPost on Wednesday simply earlier than heading into one other bargaining session. “It’s time that the employers make a decision.”

With only some days left to avert a strike, Loeb mentioned the 2 sides nonetheless haven’t resolved some key points. At the highest of the listing is relaxation: In current weeks, IATSE members have come ahead with tales about their grueling schedules. Editors, digital camera technicians, script coordinators and different behind-the-scenes personnel are demanding extra time to recuperate between shifts, which might run longer than 14 hours.

“I think there’s a tremendous demand for product, more now than there ever was before.”

– Matthew Loeb, president of IATSE

One employee not too long ago advised HuffPost that she’s so exhausted after work that she will be able to’t make the drive home with out pulling over to the aspect of the highway to take a nap. Loeb mentioned he wasn’t shocked to listen to such anecdotes, however discovered the quantity of them disappointing.

Workers have mentioned they’re uninterested in working “Fraturdays” ― Friday shifts which are so lengthy they spill into Saturday morning.

“It’s about family life,” Loeb mentioned. “It’s about rest and health and safety on the job and coming home from the job.”

Loeb mentioned the union is making an attempt to insert stronger contractual protections to protect towards studios forcing folks to work by means of lunch or into the wee hours of the night time, leaving them with brief turnaround occasions earlier than they must be again on set the following day.

He insisted these penalties shouldn’t value the studios something so long as they keep away from triggering them.

“If they manage properly, then it costs nothing,” Loeb mentioned. “Because all we’re negotiating for are disincentives for them to not provide weekend rests, or to not continue to work without providing a meal [break]. If they stop and provide a meal, it costs them nothing. It costs money if they evade it.”

Long days have been a typical criticism on movie and TV units for years, however Loeb mentioned the state of affairs has gotten worse with the rise of streaming. Studios try to crank out extra content material whereas anticipating employees to complete on tighter timelines. There’s one other streaming-related sticking level: Under the present contract, employees obtain much less compensation on streaming tasks in comparison with work packaged as conventional TV or movie.

“I think there’s a tremendous demand for product, more now than there ever was before,” Loeb mentioned. “And the release times are compressed, so they’re pushing people to produce more. I think they continued to push the envelope until people got to the point where they had had it. And they’re now demanding change.”

“I’m not sure they get it,” he mentioned of the studios. “There has been some progress, some modest progress made [in negotiations]. They certainly know what the issues are and they know what the solutions are.”

A rally at IATSE Local 700 last month. Roughly 60,000 film and TV workers could go on strike Monday morning.
A rally at IATSE Local 700 final month. Roughly 60,000 movie and TV employees may go on strike Monday morning.

Myung J. Chun through Getty Images

Film and TV employees are threatening to strike simply days after 10,000 John Deere employees hit the picket strains at greater than a dozen services. The walkout on the main farm and building tools producer follows different strikes this yr at big-name employers together with Frito-Lay, Nabisco and Kellogg’s. The chance of greater than 100,000 private-sector employees being on strike without delay has given rise to the Twitter hashtag #Striketober.

The job of a Hollywood cinematographer is quite a bit totally different from that of a machine operator in a cereal plant. But there’s a sturdy commonality between the calls for of IATSE members and those that’ve struck at different workplaces not too long ago: They anticipate a life away from work. Nabisco and Kellogg’s employees mentioned they have been uninterested in working 16-hour days that embrace obligatory time beyond regulation. Like movie and TV employees, they need time to see their households.

“Our business is very, very unique, and our people are technical and artistic tradespeople,” Loeb mentioned. “I don’t know if our folks are seeing the similarities [with other labor disputes], but from where I’m sitting, I do. I see that people are reevaluating their lives. I think some of that is attributable to COVID. They’re not willing to just settle.”

Loeb mentioned that in current days members volunteered their time to make 5,000 IATSE picket indicators, “which we hope is for nothing.”

But if there isn’t a deal, these indicators will hit the streets at midnight Los Angeles time on Monday morning.

“There’s a limit to what people will put up with,” Loeb mentioned.