October 16, 2021


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IATSE Members Cancel Streaming Subscription on Strike Vote Lead-up

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During the strike approval vote, some IATSE members decided to cancel their streaming subscriptions in the hope of sending a message that would hit pocketbook studios.

The workers of the bottom line entertainment union are ready to vote for the approval of the strike this weekend in anger at the long production hours without adequate breaks. New campaigns to cancel streaming subscriptions have spread online, but without the blessing or guidance of the union leadership.

“It’s completely grassroots as a means of attracting the attention of these streaming services,” said Terry Friedman, who works at Craft Services and a member of IATSE Local of0. The biggest place to influence a corporation is where they have income. ”

The move shows how the entertainment landscape has changed, as consumers now have direct connections to studios that create and distribute movies and shows and an easy way to express their dissatisfaction.

Kevin Lee Allen, a production designer in New Jersey, said he canceled his Netflix subscription last week, and included a note saying he was doing so because he supported the union fight.

Allen, a member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829, said, “I’m getting caught somewhere along the way. Some algorithm is saying, ‘Hey, we’re losing business because of this.’ “I hope my friends who don’t do the same kind of business, so it sends an economic message.

Their economic impact on streaming companies may be relatively minimal.

“Will they fall short in their quarters? No, ”Friedman said. “But companies respond to public pressure. They respond to the movement of the public – I hope it will have a huge impact. ”

The role of streaming services – or “new media” – is one of the most important topics of discussion between the 1st West Coast IATSE Union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Under the current agreement, streamers with less than 20 million subscribers pay lower wages than those applicable to film and most linear TV productions. Major streamers – Netflix, Amazon, HBO Max, Disney Plus – do not receive wage discounts under this provision, but smaller services, including Apple TV Plus and Paramount Plus – provide lower scales, according to union officials.

Discounts were added to the IATSE agreement a few years ago, when streaming was in its infancy. Now that business has matured, unions have come to see the provision as a hoax. Streamers pay lower rates on union pensions and health plans.

“I think we should show that we’re serious about what they refuse to give us,” said Max Schwartz, a studio electrical lighting technician at IATSE Local 282 with. Facebook. “I think if it becomes a real push that the IA wants to take, it could easily spread far beyond membership.”

On social media, some have questioned the strategy, saying it is better to wait until the strike actually starts or until the union formally calls for a measure.

Bargaining has stalled after the AMPTP did not respond to the union’s latest offer.

Schwartz said he was particularly annoyed at long periods without adequate breaks, but added that the rate of discounted wages was also disappointing.

“We literally do the same thing in multiple contracts for different rates,” Schwartz said. “At New Media, we have কম 15 less per hour for the same work, for which I will be paid 45 45 per hour. That doesn’t mean right.”

AMPTP says it intends to improve the minimum rate by 18% on smaller streamers. IATSE hopes to do better than this, or eliminate discrimination completely, although the latter seems to be a non-starter for studios.

For many rank-and-file members, that issue is less stressful than doing anything about changing times, such as “Friday” – a workday that begins on Friday and ends on Saturday morning – and a meal break.

Friedman said he recently had a show with a horrible time and found himself shaking his head almost at work and on the way.

“It’s dangerous, it’s deadly, and it shouldn’t be allowed to continue,” he said. “It’s more than just wages. We’re really bargaining for the time being right now. ”

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