(Reuters) – Behind-the-scenes workers on Hollywood films and television shows will launch a nationwide strike next week unless contract talks with producers are resolved, their union said on Wednesday.
If no agreement is reached by 12:01 a.m. PDT on Oct. 18, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) which represents some 60,000 off-screen workers, including camera operators and make-up artists, will launch a work stoppage threatening to devastate major studios, IATSE President Matthew Loeb said.
In the hopes of reaching an agreement on a new contract before the Monday strike deadline, the union will continue bargaining with producers this week on issues such as reasonable rest periods, meal breaks, and pay increases for those at the bottom of the wage scale, Loeb said.
“However, the pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency,” Loeb said in a statement. “Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) said studios were working hard to negotiate a deal to keep alive the industry that has provided an at-home entertainment escape for so many people working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are five days left to reach a deal, and the studios will continue to negotiate in good faith in an effort to reach an agreement for a new contract that will keep the industry working,” Jarryd Gonzales, an AMPTP spokesman, said in a statement.Last week, 90% of IATSE members cast ballots and more than 98% of the votes returned were in favor of authorizing a strike.
The union wants to reduce working hours that can stretch to about 14 hours a day as the demand for TV shows and films has increased, particularly for streaming platforms such as Netflix , Disney+, Apple TV+ and Amazon Video.
It seeks higher pay for workers on streaming projects, who get paid less than for work on mainstream and cable TV shows under an agreement signed in 2009, in the early days of streaming and online media.
During the most recent major strike in Hollywood – by film and television screenwriters for three months in late 2007 and early 2008 – all scripted shows were forced to shut down and television networks ran re-runs of comedies and dramas.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Aurora Ellis)