Union of Hollywood workers has voted to approve a strike as it would shut down almost all TV and film production. Members of IATSE say that they are working long hours without proper rest and meal breaks. IATSE stands for International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, which represent the camera crew, hairdressers, and other craft workers. These workers are demanding a better working environment and an increase in pay to fulfill their daily necessities.
More than 50,000 workers voted in favor of stopping to render their services. This constitutes approximately 98% of the total workers. The strike is expected to be the biggest strike in the history of Hollywood since World War II.
Workers want better pay and health facilities
A dialogue between IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was held last month. But IATSE walked away from the deal. The Alliance said that the deal was expected to improve the pay of workers, their pension, and health plan. However, the unions believe that through votes they have clearly conveyed their message.
President Matthew Loeb said, “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,” his statement Monday said. “For those at the bottom of the pay scale, they deserve nothing less than a living wage.”
The workers say following the pandemic lockdowns the film industry is booming in recent months and their work is becoming more demanding. They work long hours and have less time for rest. The crew members are sharing stories of 15 plus hours a day on their social media accounts. This constitutes 70-80 hours a week. They say their work is insane. They work so hard throughout the week that they only sleep on weekends. Thus, getting less time for attending parties or socializing with friends.
Worker’s sharing their experiences
Thomas Pieczkolon a sound mixer worker said on Monday that he worked for 9 continuous hours without getting a lunch break. He recently worked for 18 hours a day
and his friend Jade Thompson, a costume dresser, fell asleep while driving home. She said, “I nodded off and then came to and drifted off to the side and had a panic attack.” “It wasn’t even the end of the week! It was a Monday.”
Workers claim that falling asleep on the way home is a common problem for many of the workers after working so hard and for long hours all day. Many workers have WhatsApp groups and they chat with each other to ensure everybody reaches home safely.
However, voting does not necessarily mean that workers are going on strike. This will actually put the union in a better position to negotiate better pay and working conditions for the workers.
Hollywood previously reported a strike in 2007 and 2008, which was a writer’s strike for a labor dispute. Now all producers of the industry are under severe pressure to make a better deal with the workers. Even more than 100 members of Congress are urging to provide better facilities and lifestyles to workers.
The call for the strike will also set up a showdown with streaming services as workers believe they are taking advantage of their work.
Lisa Clark says that streaming companies are getting discounts on their laborers. Now companies should equally distribute the profit with workers because in network television they were paid more.
“It’s not a reasonable request,” she said.