Hollywood avoids hiatus days before workers were set to strike

“Hoping for a deal, preparing for a strike,” IATSE captioned the photo on their Instagram page on Oct. 12.

“Hoping for a deal, preparing for a strike,” IATSE captioned the photo on their Instagram page on Oct. 12.

Julie Nagel

After weeks of arguments over contract negotiations, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), came to a last-minute, tentative agreement on Saturday evening, narrowly avoiding IATSE’s strike deadline of Monday at 12:01 a.m. 

The tentative three-year agreement will affect 40,000 motion picture and television production workers across 13 local West Coast IATSE unions. These tentative changes are still in the process of being finalized and are focused on the care and well-being of industry workers including:

  • Raising the wages of the lowest-paid earners

  • Improvement of the working conditions and wages for workers of streaming services

  • Retroactive wage increases

  • Increased meal period penalties

  • Daily rest periods of 10 hours between shifts without exclusions

  • Weekend rest periods of 54 hours

  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday added to the working schedules

  • Adoption of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives

“This is a Hollywood ending,” said IATSE International President Matthew Loeb in the organization’s official announcement statement. “Our members stood firm. We are tough and united.”

The IATSE represents hairdressers, set designers, editors, videographers and more within the AMPTP, who recently added Netflix this year to their array of notable entertainment studios that they represent including Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros., Amazon and Apple Inc.

While some of the IATSE members are content with the potential changes, other members of the organization still believe that more can be done. 

“We’re at a historic inflection point, so hard-won battles by our IATSE reps may not be appreciated simply because the membership is mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore,” Heather Fink, an IATSE member, said in an interview with Variety. “I think it makes absolute sense to ask for the whole world right now, because we never had as much momentum as we have in this moment, and we don’t want it to pass us by.”

Fink, as well as many other sources, cite the Instagram account IA_stories as being a crucial component in gaining support for the strike vote. The account provides an anonymous outlet for members of the IATSE organization to share their stories and promote solidarity among the community.

“While the deal does claim to address some issues we want changed, considering the massive momentum and solidarity we’ve amassed there’s no reason we can’t ask for more,” the account posted on Sunday morning.

The strike, which was approved by over 98% of around 54,000 IATSE members across the country that casted their votes, comes as production starts ramping up for films and shows whose productions were halted or delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. If they had failed to reach an agreement, it would’ve forced thousands of members on production sets to cease work, cost production studios millions of dollars and bring the industry to a screeching halt.

Celebrities such as Ben Stiller, Mindy Kaling, Danny DeVito, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Seth Rogen and more have voiced their support for production workers and the IATSE organization.

“We deeply value our IATSE crew members and are committed to working with them to avoid shutting down the industry at such a pivotal time, particularly since the industry is still recovering from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the AMPTP in a statement.