The Film Industry Might Be on the Brink of a Major Strike

How will IATSE's negotiations work out?

Film gear
IATSE might be on the verge of a strike.
Dim Hou/Unsplash

In August, members of IATSE — the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union that employs tens of thousands of film and television workers — began taking to social media to recount their experiences with harmful working conditions and toxic environments on set. This initiative was part of a larger push by the union as they negotiate a new contract with the film industry’s largest studios.

It’s been over 70 years since the last time IATSE went on strike, during the War for Warner Bros. (IATSE Local 728 has a comprehensive look at the conflict.) But that could be about to change — with a significant impact for the industry.

In a new article at the Los Angeles Times, Anousha Sakoui writes that “13 IATSE Hollywood locals have been preparing members for a possible strike authorization vote, according to union members who were not authorized to be named.”

The existing contractm Sakoui reports, expired on July 31. The two parties are continuing their negotiations, however — with the latest development coming earlier this weekend. Deadline’s David Robb reported that the union and the studios missed a deadline earlier this week, but are continuing to work towards a deal.

“The parties’ extension agreement expired at midnight on Sept. 10th but negotiations continue,” IATSE said in a statement to its members. “In the meantime, the status quo remains in effect and all members should continue to report to work.”

As IATSE’s social media initiative showed, the union’s members are concerned about on-set working conditions, long hours and getting a larger percentage of streaming revenue. It’s an understandable set of requests — but with the pandemic’s impact on film and television production, it’s still uncertain how the negotiations will shake out.

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