Hollywood strike over long hours and low wages averted before imminent walkout by 60,000 workers

TV and film production would have been thrown into chaos had strike gone ahead

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Monday 18 October 2021 07:00
Film union, studios avoid strike with new deal

The entertainment union that represents film and TV workers has reached a last-minute agreement with producers, averting a strike that would have seen work stopped and widespread disruption to the entertainment industry.

Both sides confirmed the news on Saturday after reaching an agreement on a three-year contract that will now go to union members for ratification.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which includes off-camera talent including make-up artists, set designers, sound and light technicians, and camera operators among others, reached a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

A strike of its 60,000 members was scheduled to begin on Monday, but the tentative agreement has seen it called off while members vote on whether or not to approve the new terms.

“This is a Hollywood ending,” said Matthew Loeb, president of the union, in a statement. “Our members stood firm. They’re tough and united.”

Production crew members were angry at the terms of previous contracts that forced them to work extended hours without reasonable breaks or time off. Some members were being paid unliveable wages.

Streaming outlets including Netflix, Apple, and Amazon were allowed to impose even tougher terms for even less money.

On 4 October the union announced that membership had voted in favour of the strike, bringing producers back to the negotiating table.

A walkout would have not just impacted movie and pre-recorded TV production, but also daily live television including talk shows.

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Outside of the two main production centres of New York and Los Angeles, growing hubs in Georgia, New Mexico, and Colorado would have also been impacted.

It would have been the first such action taken by members in the 128-year history of the group.

“We went toe-to-toe with some of the richest and most powerful entertainment and tech companies in the world, and we have now reached an agreement with the AMPTP that meets our members’ needs,” Mr Loeb said.

“Solidarity is more than a word,” he added. “It’s the way to get things done.”

Deadline reports that key points of the deal include improved wages and working conditions for streaming service production; 10-hour turnaround times between shifts; Martin Luther King Day is now a holiday for the industry; and there will be diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Further, there will be increased funding of health and pension plans and a 3 per cent rate increase every year for the duration of the yet-to-be approved contract, among other changes.

The union had the backing of some of Hollywood’s big names, with Octavia Spencer, Mindy Kaling, and Jane Fonda voicing their support.

The Directors Guild of America also issued a statement of solidarity signed by Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Barry Jenkins, Ron Howard, and Ava DuVernay.

With reporting by the Associated Press

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