The Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America East and The International Brotherhood of Teamsters are standing in solidarity with IATSE in its efforts to reach a new film and TV contract with the AMPTP.
“On behalf of our hundreds of thousands of members working across film and television, we stand in solidarity with our I.A.T.S.E. brothers, sisters and kin,” the four groups said in a joint statement. “The basic quality of life and living wage rights they’re fighting for in their negotiations are the issues that impact all of us who work on sets and productions. We stand with the I.A.T.S.E.”
In a memo to members on Monday, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said that it is proceeding with a vote to authorize a strike after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood studios, declined to respond to its latest proposal.
IATSE, with the support of tens of thousands of members, has been pushing for higher wages for its members — especially the lowest-paid workers like script coordinators whose minimum wage is below the living wage in Los Angeles. In addition, it’s looking for contribution increases in health and pension plans and a strict limit on shooting hours to avoid 14-hour shoot days that have led to severe physical and mental burnout for crew members.
IATSE represents more than 150,000 entertainment workers in the U.S. and Canada, with 13 locals on the West Coast representing positions such as editors, cinematographers, hair and makeup artists, production designers and costumers among many others. In the strike vote, each local is given a number of delegates, with all delegates voting yes on authorization if at least 75% of votes within the local are in favor.
Talks between IATSE and the AMPTP began in May but were put on pause through the summer as the AMPTP worked with Hollywood labor unions to revise the industry’s COVID-19 policies. When talks resumed last month, IATSE said in a membership memo that the two sides were “far apart” on multiple issues in the three-year bargaining agreement, including the aforementioned issues of living wage and shoot hours.
Meanwhile, IATSE members have spoken out about the hardships they have faced with their health and finances with hashtags on social media like #IALivingWage. Local 871, which represents script coordinators, writers assistants, assistant production coordinators and art department coordinators has particularly been a major player in social media organizing, sharing stories of members struggling to make ends meet despite weeks of grueling shoots and over a decade of experience in Hollywood.
In its responding statement, AMPTP said that its proposal included increases of 10-19% in minimum wages for 871 members, an average of 18% increase in minimums for certain new media productions, and covering the $400 million deficit in the IATSE Health Plan without raising premiums and other healthcare costs like deductibles and co-pays for dependents.