Members and Celebrities Applaud IATSE Strike Authorization: A Real Show of Strength
After the historic vote to authorize the first IATSE strike ever, members of several below-the-line guilds said they were impressed with the nearly-unanimous response from their fellow craftspeople in the entertainment industry. However, concerns about the possible economic impact are also top-of-mind for the workers who are already at the mercy of ever-fluctuating production schedules.
Although Facebook and Instagram were down for nearly six hours, crew members took to Twitter to express their support and share their messages of congratulations as over 98% members of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees voted to approve a strike authorization, giving the union president the power to shut down film and TV production across the country.
Should Tuesday’s talks with the AMPTP not be successful, it would be the first nationwide industry strike in the 128-year history of IATSE. Frances Fisher shared a tweet saying “Congratulations,” while other celebrities sending support included Jeffrey Wright, Rosie O’Donnell and Octavia Spencer.
Crew members have been bracing for a strike authorization vote for weeks as talks stalled between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios. The unions have been negotiating since May on a new contract, and are seeking to address longstanding concerns, including long hours on set, streaming wage scales and residuals, and the stability of the pension and health funds. Workers have been seeking improvements on meal and rest periods, longer turnarounds between production days, and improved rates on streaming projects.
Costume designer Mandi Line, who is about to start work on a pilot, said in an interview with Variety, “ I got the chills knowing what support for one another feels like. Underneath that happiness was fear, I have to be honest. I was around during the writer’s strike and I saw people lose their homes. I also know there is no compensation, no extension of benefits, and that is scary.” Line, who has worked on “Pretty Little Liars,” expressed her pride for her film and TV crew family.
Knight FX founder Zak Knight, who has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, said, “As a 22 year veteran of the film industry I’ve been through strikes. Strikes are damaging for everyone. They are not easy and certainly, this will hit my bottom line, but not nearly as much as it will impact me if we don’t fight for these things right now. The goal of every employer is to get more for less, so sacrifices for our longevity need to happen now.”
Knight added, “I’m absolutely blown away by our membership’s engagement and the work of those crew members, on top of their regular jobs, to drum up support with their creativity. Very few things in this world get 98% approval, especially when they can have an effect on your financial outcomes, so this is a real show of strength. I’m also happy to know the AMPTP wants to come back to the table, and I really hope that they understand that the same 98% who’ve rallied this support are not going to accept anything less than a deal that will improve our lives. I hope they understand that the giant is awake, and it is hungry, so they better find some real beef.”
Script coordinator Shawn Waugh, who worked on “Fear the Walking Dead,” is very much for a strike, but is aware of the impact it will have. “On the one hand, a strike means people are losing out on income and health insurance hours that we use to support our families. On the other, this was a voluntary vote, and my fellow IATSE brothers and sisters came through in a united show of support for basic reasonable rest and livable wages. I think an actual strike, with nearly 60,000 workers putting down their kits and taking up picket signs, would show the studios the human side of all the pain their work practices create.”
Mary DeChambres, ACE, took to twitter to post: “The results are in!! IATSE members have had enough of the ridiculous hours and unsafe working conditions. “Results show 90 percent of eligible union voters cast ballots, with more than 98 percent of them in support of strike authorization.”
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed better working conditions and the strike vote. She wrote, “FULL support and solidarity to @IATSE workers in their vote to authorize a strike. 90% turnout with 98% voting yes is an incredible accomplishment. It’s exactly the kind of mass-movement organizing we need right now. May your example inspire others! Stay strong we’re with you.”
Adam Schiff was another lawmaker urging better set conditions. Just last week, he was one of the many members of congress who had called on the AMPTP to negotiate with IATSE. In his tweet, he wrote, “Today, @IATSE members voted to authorize a strike. This is the next chapter in their efforts to secure living wages and better working conditions. It is my hope an agreement can be struck soon, and that this will lead to badly-needed changes for these talented individuals.”
Here are more reactions to the historic vote.
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