October 25, 2021

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IATSE strike votes begin, results expected Monday

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Nearly 1,000,000 members of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees received ballots on Friday morning to approve the first nationwide strike in union history.

Members will have three days to vote, ballots will be cast at the PT on Sunday at 9 p.m. Results are expected to be announced on Monday. Locals on the 1st West Coast of the Union represent the vast majority of Hollywood’s bottom line staff, including camera operators, grips, editors, script coordinators, makeup artists, costume designers, set dressers and sound mixers.

The IATSE called for a vote on September 20 after talks with the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance broke down. For a long time, the union had been discussing various issues, including streaming residues, higher wage rates for low-wage workers, and the stability of pensions and health plans. Many of these issues have come up repeatedly in previous discussions, but the union is taking a much tougher stance than before.

An organization called Honest Ballot is conducting voting electronically. Union locals have been doing phone-banking to encourage a “yes” vote among their members as well as to hold town hall meetings through Zoom. The union is hoping for both a huge majority and a high vote.

Assuming, if passed, the approval of the strike will not lead directly to the strike. Instead, IATSE negotiators will want to resume discussions, and use the vote as proof that membership is behind their position. But Matthew de Loeb, the union’s international president, will have the power to call a strike if the AMPTP does not respond.

The strike will shut down almost all TV and film production across the country. The strike will cover all work under three agreements: the basic agreement, the area standard agreement and the videotape agreement, all of which are now over. There are separate contracts for shows produced by HBO, Showtime, BET and Starz, “First Show” on that cable network, as well as separate contracts for commercials and low-budget films. Work will continue under that agreement.

The IATSE has the support of major Hollywood unions, including SAG-Eftra, the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, and the International Brotherhood of Teamster. On Thursday, Sen. Alex Padilla and Representative Adam Schiff sent a letter of support to the IATSE to the AMTTP, which was signed by 118 other members of Congress and the Senate.

Members of Congress wrote, “We support the policy of adequate sleep, food breaks and living standards for all workers.” “A strike would dramatically disrupt the industry, the economy and the communities we represent. We are hopeful that both sides can negotiate in good faith and reach a sensible compromise, which requires both sides to continue participating in the ongoing negotiations.”

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