The unions have been negotiating the new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers since May, seeking to address long-standing concerns.
Following a stall in negotiations between IATSE and the Film and Television Producers’ Association, IATSE leaders announced that their members voted on Monday to authorize a strike. 90% of IATSE members voted and 98% of them approved the strike.
The unions have been negotiating the new contract since May and are trying to address long-standing concerns, including long hours on the set, streaming wage scales and residuals, and the stability of health and pension funds.
“The members have spoken loud and clear,” Matthew D. Loeb, the international president, said in a statement. “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.”
By authorizing the strike, the union president has the power to stop film and TV production across the country. Although the union has never gone on strike before, if it does this time, an estimated 60,000 of its current members will stop working. These members include cinematographers, costumers, script supervisors and grips – the workers who allow the stars to shine.
Seth Rogen and Ben Stiller stood up for the union, stating that “the crews deserve better”.
I just spent 9 months working with an incredibly hard working crew of film makers through very challenging conditions. Totally support them in fighting for better conditions.#IATSE
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) September 22, 2021
This is certainly not the best time for the industry, when it was just starting to recover from the epidemic. However, production does not have to stop completely, as other countries could provide alternative filming locations.
For example in Europe, a worker cannot work more than 48 hours a week, and that includes overtime. Almost all European countries have a 20-minute break after six hours of work a day and a 25-minute break after nine hours.
In Hungary, the daily working hours that can legally be worked are 12 hours. This is why foreign filmmakers like to come to Hungary, as it has one of the highest working hours in Europe. However, even if it is the highest, there must be a mandatory 8-hour rest period between two working days. This also means that there is less chance of a strike, and one could say that there is no need for a union.