Hollywood Crews Vote 'Yes' on Strike Authorization, Raising the Stakes for Streaming Giants

Harri Weber

Harri is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. She previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find her on Twitter and send tips on L.A. startups and venture capital to harrison@dot.la.

Hollywood Crews Vote 'Yes' on Strike Authorization, Raising the Stakes for Streaming Giants
Photo by Thea Hdc on Unsplash

Ratcheting up the stakes in an already tense labor battle, members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) have voted to authorize union President Matthew Loeb to call a strike, the group announced Monday.

The decision could lead to the most significant industry walkout since World War II, should negotiations with a powerful trade group remain deadlocked.

53,411 behind-the-scenes workers in entertainment participated in the vote, and more than 98% of those voters supported the strike authorization, the union announced. "The members have spoken loud and clear," said Loeb in a press release. "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."

The vote will be used as a bargaining chip in ongoing talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Disney, Apple, AT&T and other giants in entertainment and tech.

It comes as the rise of streaming has ramped up the tech industry's influence in Hollywood, ensuring that Amazon and Netflix have a seat at the bargaining table alongside major studios such as Sony Pictures and Paramount.

"Every single local that voted far exceeded the 75% threshold for strike authorization," John Lindley, president of the International Cinematographers Guild, said in a message to IATSE Local 600 members on Monday. "We are now scheduled to return to the table tomorrow, October 5th, to hear from the employers."

IATSE consists of camera technicians, editors, makeup artists, location managers and a host of other workers in entertainment. In negotiations for a new contract — also known as a basic agreement — IATSE representatives have pressed for "meals and breaks during the day; rest periods between shifts and on the weekends; a living wage for the lowest-paid people; and some appropriate adjustments to new media [streaming] based on its maturity," Loeb said recently.

But talks have stalled for weeks on a number of issues, from raising the wage floor to funding IATSE members' pensions through a greater cut of streaming profits.

While IATSE has yet to declare a strike, the AMPTP warned last month that a walkout would "have a devastating impact on the industry and inevitably will result in thousands of IATSE members losing their income, failing to qualify for health insurance benefits, jeopardizing funding for the pension plan and disrupting production."

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