‘Sharknado 3’ Strike: IATSE Accuses The Asylum of ‘Lies,’ ‘Anti-Union Screed’

Labor union’s words come after The Asylum COO calls dealing with local New York chapter on “Sharknado 2” “the worst experience we’ve had”

Last Updated: March 13, 2015 @ 2:19 PM

The “Sharknado 3” strike has been a whirlwind of biting (remarks, at least) — not unlike the plot of the campy Syfy TV movie franchise from The Asylum.

But there is nothing jokey about the ongoing labor dispute between film producers and union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The current war of words has been capped by the labor company’s Motion Picture Department’s assistant director accusing The Asylum of “lying” and spreading “anti-union screed.”

“Once again, The Asylum distinguishes themselves as not only misrepresenting the truth but outright lying about the facts. The IATSE stands with the original crew of ‘Sharknado 3’ who voted overwhelmingly for union representation,” Vanessa Holtgrewe said on Friday. “Many of the crew were on the picket lines in Los Angeles day after day, and their Facebook page, Strikenado, is filled with their testimonies, as well as those who have had the displeasure of working for The Asylum before.”

She added: “Like The Asylum’s original statement, which mocked this hardworking crew, this new collection of lies is nothing more than an anti-union screed.”

The Asylum and Syfy did not immediately respond to TheWrap‘s request for comment.

Those IATSE comments were in response to Asylum COO, “Sharknado 3” producer and self-described pro-union guy Paul Bales — a former decade-long Screen Actors Guild employee — bashing the ongoing picketing.

“It is true that ‘Sharknado 2’ was made under an IATSE contract,” Bales said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “However, dealing with the New York City locals was the worst experience we’ve had in making over 200 movies. After all of the manipulation and bullying, inefficiency, overcharging, lying, and featherbedding, we had absolutely no desire to repeat this experience on ‘Sharknado 3.'”

“The IATSE’s actions on this film have confirmed that we made the right decision,” he continued.

“The replacement crew and the crew who have continued to work have been subject to everything from cyberbullying, threats, objects being thrown at them, verbal and physical intimidation, staged pedestrian accidents, and mysteriously flattened tires,” Bales added. “Most disturbingly, the majority of the vitriol has been directed at the women on our crew, including the posting of their photographs, phone numbers, and license plate numbers to invite their harassment.”

On Wednesday, workers on the production walked off the job in protest of the conditions on the third installment of the disaster franchise. The walk-off follows a strike last week that saw production of the film shut down on the West Coast. Workers were asking for benefits, as well as standardized wages and working conditions.

IATSE says that The Asylum has been forced to rewrite a number of scenes, extend their shooting schedule and scale back production in the wake of the protests.

The third installment of the “Sharknado” series sees Mark Cuban as the President of the United States and Ann Coulter as the Vice President. “Baywatch” icon David Hasselhoff has also been cast in the production, playing the father of Ian Ziering‘s character.

Read the full statement from Paul Bales, Chief Operating Officer of The Asylum and one of the producers of the “Sharknado” films below.

Before I started with The Asylum, I worked at Screen Actors Guild for almost ten years; first as a contracts representative, and then as Director of SAGIndie. In fact, I was instrumental in unionizing the SAG business reps and still consider myself a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Five years prior to that I was West Coast Representative for the American Guild of Variety Artists. The Asylum, at my insistence, has voluntarily signed agreements with all of the entertainment unions and guilds when the budgets allowed. And while other studios have moved to Canada or elsewhere, we have chosen to keep our production business in the United States. So, to accuse me, my partners, or my company of somehow being anti-union is insulting and untrue.

It is true that “Sharknado 2” was made under an IATSE contract. However, dealing with the New York City locals was the worst experience we’ve had in making over 200 movies. After all of the manipulation and bullying, inefficiency, overcharging, lying, and featherbedding, we had absolutely no desire to repeat this experience on “Sharknado 3”.

The IATSE’s actions on this film have confirmed that we made the right decision.

Unmotivated by the crew themselves, the IATSE pulled the union members working on the film and coerced most of the non-union crew not to cross the picket line by claiming that they would never be able to join the union in the future. The replacement crew and the crew who have continued to work have been subject to everything from cyberbullying, threats, objects being thrown at them, verbal and physical intimidation, staged pedestrian accidents, and mysteriously flattened tires. Most disturbingly, the majority of the vitriol has been directed at the women on our crew, including the posting of their photographs, phone numbers, and license plate numbers to invite their harassment.

Furthermore, of the 30-40 picketers who paraded around our sets in Los Angeles and Washington and our production offices, only about three or four of them had any prior involvement in this project.

The crew was replaced within a day and production has continued unabated. The delivery and release of the film is not, and has never been, in jeopardy.

The only thing the IATSE’s 1920s shakedown tactics have achieved is the unemployment of our original crew, erroneous stories planted in the press, and the persecution of a young and dedicated crew who want nothing more than to be a part of the cinematic history that is the “Sharknado” phenomenon.