Film and TV workers left the job site on Friday uncertain of when they would return, as negotiators were expected to work through the weekend in hopes of avoiding a crippling strike.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees advised members to bring home any tools and equipment that belong to them, because they may not have access to the set on Monday. IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb has set a deadline of 12:01 a.m. PT on Monday to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or else workers will start picketing at 6 a.m.
The mood on set Friday felt almost like a wrap party before a hiatus, said Joe Martinez, a member of Local 44 who makes props for shows like “The Mandalorian” and “For All Mankind.” He spent much of his day packing up crates of manufacturing equipment and loading them on a truck to bring home. Many crew members are fired up for a strike, but Martinez said there was also a somber undercurrent, as crews went home to await instructions from the union.
“It’s a chess game,” Martinez said. “Whether it’s two weeks, two months or two years, we’re know we’re coming back. It’s just a question of whether we’re coming back with a good contract or a shitty contract.”
The two sides continued to exchange proposals, and some union officials expressed some guarded optimism about reaching a deal. The bargaining largely revolves around issues like lunch breaks and rest periods, though the union is also looking to increase wages for streaming service productions and for low-paid employees.
“We are committed to a deal within the deadline, and we’ll continue to bargain,” Loeb said in an interview with the Associated Press. “But if we don’t get a deal, we’ll do what we have to do.”
The strike would be felt across the country, with 60,000 workers from coast to coast walking off the job. The union scheduled several solidarity events over the weekend, in New York, Chicago and Atlanta, and was also set to train strike captains. If a strike is called, workers would picket from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with picket duty divided into three four-hour shifts.
Some shows are not subject to a strike, including those made for HBO, Starz and Showtime, because they are governed by separate contracts. One of those networks sent an email to members stating that it is “neutral” in the fight between IATSE and the AMPTP studios, and that work on its shows would continue. However, some workers on those shows were planning to join the picket lines anyway, potentially jeopardizing those productions.