By Jesse Dolojan, Guest Writer
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) voted to commit to a nationwide strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) this Monday due to poor working conditions and pay disputes.
The IATSE is a union that covers many entertainment industry employees who work on cinematography, set design, costume design, animation and more. It is made up of 150,000 members, 60,000 of whom were actively affected by the negotiation talks.
IATSE negotiations with AMPTP were ongoing until September, when AMPTP declined to make a counter offer to a union proposal. The union claimed that they have failed to address any of the major workplace problems that have plagued the industry.
The IATSE is in pursuit of more manageable hours, better working conditions and increased benefits. The union claims that workers have not been provided lunch breaks and that many people have suffered physically and mentally due to poor workplace conditions. Some believe that the pandemic has made IATSE’s demands more feasible. The pandemic restricted production on some projects and allowed a re-emphasis on worker safety.
Film industry figures such as Octavia Spencer, Mindy Kaling and Jane Fonda have announced support for IATSE and their demands. Members of the Directors Guild of America, including Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan, have signed a statement of solidarity as well.
In addition to this, several congressmen have issued a letter to the AMPTP requesting negotiations to carry on in search of better working conditions.
Ninety-eight percent of eligible voters supported the strike, which will begin Oct. 18 at 12:01 a.m. if negotiations do not conclude before then.
Last Tuesday, the AMPTP decided to recommit to negotiations between the two parties. The AMPTP claimed that it values the IATSE’s partnership heavily, and that it would be willing to continue negotiations to avoid a strike.
The AMPTP noted that the film industry is still recovering from the economic fallout of the pandemic.