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Source: Pixabay

The 60,000 members of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) in film and TV production have authorised a nationwide strike in a near-unanimous vote, the union said on Monday (October 4).

IATSE said this marked the first time in its 128-year history that such a step has been taken. It comes after online polls opened from October 1-3 and resulted in a 98.7% vote in favour of industrial action after stalled contract negotiations with Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) who represent the studios. IATSE said there was 90% turnout from 59,478 registered voters across 36 local unions.

The union is likely to request further talks with AMPTP. Thus far the stumbling blocks have been working hours, pay and residuals, and benefits. While action would shut down production on major films and many broadcast and streaming series across the US it is thought that projects governed by IATSE’s current agreements on low budget features and pay television would not be affected immediately as those agreements run to the end of 2022.

IATSE polled its members as production in the US as in other parts of the world has been bouncing back after pandemic shutdowns. Soundstages are booked up and costs have been rising for in-demand crew.

“The members have spoken loud and clear,” said IATSE international president Matthew Loeb. “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.”

On Monday the Directors Guild Of America expressed its public support in a statement that read, “The DGA National Board, as the representatives of more than 18,000 directors and members of the directorial team, stands in solidarity with our I.A.T.S.E. brothers, sisters and kin. The quality of life and living wage issues they are fighting for are important to all workers on set. We urge the producers and studios of the AMPTP to return to the bargaining table and make a fair deal addressing these critical issues.”