Hollywood Workers Set Strike Date For Oct. 18

The union representing behind-the-scenes workers on film sets says the studios haven’t shown “any sense of urgency” in contract negotiations.

Roughly 60,000 workers in the film and television industry will go on strike next week if major Hollywood studios do not offer them a satisfying contract before then, the workers’ union said Wednesday.

Matthew Loeb, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE), announced that it had set a strike deadline of Monday morning, increasing pressure on industry representatives to reach a deal within the coming days.

If the workers walk out, it will be the largest strike in the U.S. private sector in 14 years, halting production in Hollywood and satellite film towns like Atlanta and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Loeb said in a statement that the negotiations so far lacked “any sense of urgency.”

“Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now,” he added.

Workers say they have a number of issues they want to see addressed by the industry group representing studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. They want to see significant pay increases at the bottom end of the wage scale, better compensation for workers on streaming projects, and stronger guarantees on breaks and time off between shifts.

Several workers have said in interviews that the grueling hours make it hard to spend any time with their families. Cheli Clayton Samaras told HuffPost that she’s often so sleep-deprived that she fears she might crash her car heading home after a 14-hour day. “It’s a recipe for disaster,” she said.

The workers represented by IATSE are known as “below-the-line” crew, since their names fall beneath big-name actors, writers and producers on budget sheets. The union’s members work as costume designers, cinematographers, editors, production and script coordinators and other behind-the-scenes personnel.

The workers’ frustration was evident in their strike authorization vote. IATSE said that roughly 90% of its 60,000 workers took part in the vote, and that 98.6% approved of the union’s leadership declaring a strike if necessary.

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