The Oklahoman

Film, TV workers’ strike to start next week

Union demands safe working conditions

- Andrew Dalton and Lindsey Bahr

“Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”

Matthew Loeb,

Internatio­nal Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Internatio­nal president

LOS ANGELES – The union representi­ng film and television crews said its 60,000 members will begin a nationwide strike on Monday if it does not reach a deal that satisfies demands for fair and safe working conditions.

A strike would bring a halt to filming on a broad swath of film and television production­s and extend well beyond Hollywood, affecting production­s in Georgia, New Mexico and other North American shoots.

Internatio­nal Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Internatio­nal President Matthew Loeb said Wednesday that the strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. Monday unless an agreement is reached on rest and meal periods and pay for its lowest-paid workers. Loeb cited a lack of urgency in the pace of negotiatio­ns for setting a strike date.

“Without an end date, we could keep talking forever,” Loeb said in a statement. “Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”

A strike would be a serious setback for an industry that had recently returned to work after long pandemic shutdowns and recurring aftershock­s amid new outbreaks.

“There are five whole days left to reach a deal,” said Jarryd Gonzales, a publicist for the group representi­ng the studios. “Studios will continue to negotiate in good faith in an effort to reach an agreement for a new contract that will keep the industry working.”

As in other industries, many behindthe-scenes people started reevaluati­ng their lives and the demands of their profession­s during the pandemic. Now that production is ramping up again, union leaders say the “catch-up” is resulting in worse working conditions.

“Folks have reported working conditions deteriorat­ing and being aggravated,” Jonas Loeb, IATSE’s director of communicat­ion said last week. “And these 60,000 behind the scenes workers that are under these contracts are really at a breaking point.”

It would be the first nationwide strike in the 128-year history of IATSE, whose members include cinematogr­aphers, camera operators, set designers, carpenters, hair and makeup artists, animators and many others.

Union members say they are forced to work excessive hours and are not given reasonable rest via meal breaks and sufficient time off between shifts. Leaders say the lowest paid crafts get unlivable wages.

“We’ve continued to try and impress upon the employers the importance of our priorities, the fact that this is about human beings, and the working conditions are about dignity and health and safety at work,” said Rebecca Rhine, national executive director of the Cinematogr­aphers Guild, IATSE Local 600. “The health and safety issues, the unsafe hours, the not breaking for meals, those were the exception for many years in the industry, which is a tough industry. But what they’ve become is the norm.”

The union reported on Oct. 4 that its members had voted overwhelmi­ngly to allow its president to authorize a strike, but negotiatio­ns, and hopes to avert a walkout, resumed after the vote.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios and other entertainm­ent companies in negotiatio­ns, said its members value their crew members and were committed to avoiding a shutdown in a still-recovering industry.

“A strike is always difficult for everybody. Everybody suffers, it’s hard, but I believe that our members have the will and the resolve to do what’s necessary to be heard and to have their voices translated into actual change in the industry,” Rhine said.

 ?? CHRIS PIZZELLO/AP ?? A strike would bring a halt to filming on a broad swath of film and television production­s and extend well beyond Hollywood, affecting production­s in Georgia, New Mexico and other North American shoots.
CHRIS PIZZELLO/AP A strike would bring a halt to filming on a broad swath of film and television production­s and extend well beyond Hollywood, affecting production­s in Georgia, New Mexico and other North American shoots.

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