Inside the Grassroots IATSE Campaign to Pay $70,000 in Back Dues for Strapped Members Ahead of Strike Authorization Vote

More than 98% of members voted to authorize a strike in union’s negotiations with film and TV producers

The overwhelming approval by IATSE members to authorize a strike came after months of grassroots organizing, creating a network of Hollywood workers so tightly knit that they raised $70,000 to help cover dues payments for members who had fallen behind due to the pandemic shutdown of production.

In the final days leading up to last weekend’s strike authorization vote, members learned they had to be caught up on all outstanding dues payments to participate. Olga Lexell, a writer assistant and script coordinator who is a member of IATSE Local 871, realized that this could shut out members who are behind on dues, especially for 871 members who are already the lowest paid workers in Hollywood.

“A friend reached out asking if there was anything we could do to help with this,” Lexell said, “and it just started with … doing what we can to get them money.”

Lexell turned to social media to ask IATSE members to reach out to her if they needed help with paying dues. Not only did she receive requests for help from multiple locals, but she found even more members and even friends from outside the industry wanting to help with contributions.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • • Twitter: @jeremyfuster