Over 118 members of Congress including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Alex Padilla, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Karen Bass, and Congressman Adam Schiff are urging the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to negotiate with IATSE to improve wages and working conditions for workers in the film and television industry. The letter comes in the wake of a potential strike, which could effectively shut down production of movies, shows and other content in the U.S.
Voting begins today on strike authorization. The vote is expected to pass by an overwhelming margin, giving International President Matthew D. Loeb the power to call 60,000 workers off the job. Strike supporters believe that they are being asked to work too many hours, as many as 16 to 18 a day, and the rise in production tied to the explosion of new streaming services has led to improved health care and other benefits.
The letter addressed to AMPTP president Carol Lombardini reads, “The key issues in this negotiation, as we’ve come to understand them, are about worker dignity and basic human necessities. We are unified in our belief in the importance of living wages, sustainable benefits, and reasonable rest periods between shifts and during the workday,” the members wrote in the letter. “We ask that the AMPTP negotiate collaboratively with these workers to reach a fair contract and address the basic human needs that will allow them to do their jobs safely and with dignity.”
While Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has offered some concessions, but not the wholesale changes sought by union. Many observers still believe a deal will be reached before work is shut down. If there is a strike it would be the first in IATSE’s history.
Earlier this week, the Art Directors Guild (ADG 800), the American Cinema Editors (ACE) and the International Cinematographer’s Guild joined in solidarity with DGA, SAG-AFTRA, International Union of Teamsters and Writers Guild of America East who all unanimously agreed to support the IATSE nationwide strike vote, and encouraged its members to vote “Yes.”
IATSE negotiators are seeking more rest breaks and longer turnaround times between production hours. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — which represents the major studios, including Netflix and Amazon — has refused to make concessions that would shorten the workday, which would significantly raise the studios’ costs.