Update 6:45 PM PT: Updated to include responding statement from AMPTP
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees announced in a memo to members on Monday that it is proceeding with a vote to authorize a strike after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood studios, declined to respond to its latest proposal.
“Today, the AMPTP informed the IATSE that they do not intend to respond to our comprehensive package
proposal presented to them over a week ago,” reads the memo from guild leadership obtained by TheWrap. “This failure to continue negotiating can only be interpreted one way: They simply will not address the core issues we have repeatedly advocated for from the beginning. As a result, we will now proceed with a nationwide strike authorization vote to demonstrate our commitment to achieving the change that is long overdue in this industry.”
A strike authorization would not necessarily trigger an immediate strike, but could provide the guild’s negotiating committee with more leverage for an agreement. IATSE, with the support of tens of thousands of members, has been pushing for higher wages for its members — especially the lowest-paid workers like script coordinators whose minimum wage is below the living wage in Los Angeles — as well as health and pension plan contribution increases and a strict limit on shooting hours to avoid 14-hour shoot days that have led to severe physical and mental burnout for crew members.
IATSE represents more than 150,000 entertainment workers in the U.S. and Canada, with 13 locals on the West Coast representing positions such as editors, cinematographers, hair and makeup artists, production designers and costumers among many others. In the strike vote, each local is given a number of delegates, with all delegates voting yes on authorization if at least 75% of votes within the local are in favor.
Talks between IATSE and the AMPTP began in May but were put on pause through the summer as the AMPTP worked with Hollywood labor unions to revise the industry’s COVID-19 policies. When talks resumed last month, IATSE said in a membership memo that the two sides were “far apart” on multiple issues in the three-year bargaining agreement, including the aforementioned issues of living wage and shoot hours.
Meanwhile, IATSE members have spoken out about the hardships they have faced with their health and finances with hashtags on social media like #IALivingWage. Local 871, which represents script coordinators, writers assistants, assistant production coordinators and art department coordinators has particularly been a major player in social media organizing, sharing stories of members struggling to make ends meet despite weeks of grueling shoots and over a decade of experience in Hollywood.
“Even though Hollywood has been talking about how they want more diversity, they want more inclusivity, they want these stories, they failed to provide the one thing that can support the people that can provide these stories: a living wage,” 871 member and script coordinator Colby Bachiller told TheWrap in July. “As it is now, the only people who can enter this industry are people of privilege or people willing to take on a lot of debt.”
In its responding statement, AMPTP said that its proposal included increases of 10-19% in minimum wages for 871 members, an average of 18% increase in minimums for certain new media productions, and covering the $400 million deficit in the IATSE Health Plan without raising premiums and other healthcare costs like deductibles and co-pays for dependents.
““The AMPTP put forth a deal-closing comprehensive proposal that meaningfully addresses the IATSE’s key bargaining issues. When we began negotiations with the IATSE months ago, we discussed the economic realities and the challenges facing the entertainment industry as we work to recover from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the AMPTP said in its statement.
” The AMPTP listened and addressed many of the IATSE demands, including paying nearly $400 million pension and health plan deficit. The package includes substantial improvements in rest periods, increases in wages and benefits, increases in minimum rates for specific job categories and increases in minimum rates for New Media Productions,” AMPTP continued. “While neither party is getting everything it wanted this bargaining cycle, this package recognizes the crucial role IATSE crew members play as we continue to move our industry forward and provide employment for thousands of employees who work on productions.”