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Massive Hollywood labor union moves closer to nationwide strike

Written by on October 4, 2021

iStock/Josh Steichmann

Today the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the showbiz union representing tens of thousands of behind-the-scenes workers, has voted to authorize a nationwide strike — the first time in IATSE’s 128-year history that members have done so.

The vote was nearly unanimous: with 90% of the eligible union voters casting ballots, 98% voted in support of a strike authorization.

Union members say they’re seeking adequate compensation and safe working conditions in an industry that pushes work days far longer than most realize. The boon in production from streaming services has compounded the overwork problem, union members say. 

“The members have spoken loud and clear,” said IATSE International President Matthew Loeb in a statement. “This vote is about the quality of life as well as the health and safety of those who work in the film and television industry. Our people have basic human needs like time for meal breaks, adequate sleep, and a weekend. For those at the bottom of the pay scale, they deserve nothing less than a living wage.” 

Loeb continued, “I hope that the studios will see and understand the resolve of our members. The ball is in their court. If they want to avoid a strike, they will return to the bargaining table and make us a reasonable offer.”

For its part, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the entertainment industry’s official collective bargaining representatives, responded by saying in part, “We deeply value our IATSE crew members and are committed to working with them to avoid shutting down the industry…particularly since the industry is still recovering from the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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