Workers in one of Hollywood’s biggest unions are considering a strike, and some of the entertainment industry’s most high-profile performers are showing their support. The leaders of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union, which represents around 150,000 of Hollywood’s crafts workers, have called on its members to give them the authorization to strike following months of stalled contract negotiations with producers.
ATSE has noted increased protests against adversarial working conditions, ranging from low pay and long workdays to safety concerns, and a potential strike has drawn vocal support from major Hollywood actors: Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, Matthew Cherry, Bradley Whitford, Anthony Rapp, Josh Ruben, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Rachel Zegler, and Jeremy O. Harris are among the industry talents who have recently tweeted in support of the move.
“If you enjoyed our trailer for ‘West Side Story,’ you must know that none of the beauty of our film would be possible without the tireless efforts of our incredible crew,” Zegler, star of the upcoming Steven Spielberg-directed film, said on Twitter. “Crews work harder than anyone in the business, and deserve the best treatment. #IASolidarity #IALivingWage.”
Reports of a potential IATSE strike surfaced in early September following the contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). IATSE’s contract expires every three years and its latest contract expired in summer 2021. Negotiations were delayed due to IATSE joining other unions in updating agreements with studios about COVID-19 safety protocols.
Aside from topics such as negotiating for living wages and ensuring that workers get appropriate periods of downtime, a key factor in IATSE’s negotiations revolves around the “New Media” classification, which streaming projects fall under. Minimum rates for new media projects are lower than they are on “traditional” film and television productions and IATSE has argued that streaming projects have become an industry standard and no longer constitute “New Media.”
Although a strike could delay production on unionized film and television throughout the nation, IATSE and many of its members have argued on social media that it is crucial to fight for their rights and raise awareness about the poor working conditions for Hollywood’s crafts workers. It’s a sentiment that has garnered support from many of of the industry’s A-listers, as well.
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