Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

“Keeping the Status Quo Is Not Enough”: Why IATSE Members Will Be Voting No On the Tentative Agreement

On Saturday, the leadership of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) struck a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), averting a strike that was a little over 24 hours away. Here, we gather some testimonies from IATSE members on why they will be voting no on the agreement.

Left Voice

October 19, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share
Image by THR ILLUSTRATION

The International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) was on the brink of a strike that could radically change the way the entertainment industry functions. With demands about reduction in work hours, higher wages, and residuals from streaming, the demands put forward by the rank-and-file of IATSE are incredibly popular, with 98 percent voting to authorize a strike.  The IATSE leadership averted the strike day set for Monday, October 18, by reaching a tentative agreement reached with the bosses that addresses none of the most important demands. This tentative agreement is now being sent to the locals to be voted upon. 

Left Voice is asking IATSE members to share why they are voting no. 

Anonymous. Pittsburgh, PA. Makeup. 

The demands set forth like shorter working hours are important for me because the current working hours are unsafe. Often, we work 14-20 hour days and have no time to sleep and zero time for families or ourselves. People wreck their cars and have died from these work conditions. 

This is one of the reasons I will vote no. 

This industry is abusive. From how production and, many times, the actors treat crew, to how we are expected to endure unsafe working hours, often outside in the elements or in old studios, would not be acceptable in most other workplaces. 

Because it’s film, we’ve endured it under the disguise of Glamour and fame. It’s all a lie. I feel like IATSE leadership sold us out in order to avert a strike that needed to happen. Our demands were not met. I believe my fellow union members will vote no and I hope they do or I and many like myself will leave this abusive industry.

Anonymous. Los Angeles, CA. Lamp Operator.

The demands we are fighting for are important to me because I have no life outside of work due to the hours we work. I love my job but I hate this lifestyle and having to choose between the two is unacceptable. Additionally, our rates have not kept up with the increased cost of living in this city. I’m voting no on the tentative agreement because it does not go far enough to protect against the long 14-16 hours days that constantly hang over our heads. We are expected to show up for work at the call time and not leave till we are done shooting. In between that time, they do not tell us when they expect to be done or if they expect to go over. You are there until you’re not and it’s exhausting. It’s the only job I know that functions this way. It doesn’t go far enough to get me the turnaround time I need to rest, and have a hobby outside of sleep.

I feel that IATSE leadership has been handling this cycle of negotiations very poorly and with very little communication. I’ve sat in on multiple meetings with my local that run around three hours long. The one question we keep asking them is this: What are the exact things we are asking for? What does reasonable rest mean? What does a living wage mean? They have answered our demands for specifics with vague answers that relay little to no information. Then comes the summary of their agreement and it addresses little to none of the issues and specifics we had been asking for. When they received the backlash, you would have thought they had never heard our demands before now, even though we had multiple surveys and meetings regarding what the membership wanted.

I want our members to know that we have to demand better. We have to send our leadership back to the table so they negotiate a deal that more accurately reflects our needs. We should demand more from Loeb than this deal. Keeping the status quo is not enough. It’s time for change!

Anonymous. Hollywood, CA. Editors Guild (Local 700)

We are a strong union and had 99% in favor of a strike because we’re exhausted. Our leadership failed to ensure basic human needs, let alone protect us from continued flagrant abuse which jeopardizes our health and safety. It is utterly shocking and there is a feeling of revolt.

Our leadership is too far removed from the laborers’ realities. They have $470k salaries (Matt Loeb), cush jobs, and for all we know, they’re getting greased by the streaming corporate giants. They are severely abusing the system of collective bargaining and there is going to be severe backlash if they don’t stick to their promises of focusing on employer abuse inhumane working conditions.

It’s ironic that so much of the content I work on is about bringing awareness to mental health, promoting self-care, personal boundaries, etc. I wonder if the producers and showrunners experience cognitive dissonance from promoting this content while simultaneously making the crew skip meals and breaks and work overtime every day. The on-camera talent is speaking this truth in the spotlight while everyone in the dark studio around them is suffering the exact maladies they’re speaking of. It’s no wonder we’re cynical and disillusioned.

The good news is that we have each other. We have strength in numbers. A labor stoppage would hurt the studios and streaming giants FAR worse than the workers, because we’re talking hundreds of millions in revenue.

We are one of the strongest unions in the country. We CAN change our working conditions.

At my IATSE local orientation meeting 7 years ago, we were told the primary purpose of collective bargaining is to ensure good working conditions, which wouldn’t be achieved individually — because we work as a team, and because as a team we can say “no” to working under poor conditions. Rates are negotiated individually (albeit with established standards)…but the WAY we work is the one thing that takes the collective power of the whole group.

In order for collective bargaining to work, we practice solidarity. We all agreed to this when joining. Solidarity requires a union member who has it good to recognize when their fellow workers are being abused. Also, our leaders need to recognize that working conditions are the core issue. Their email communications have been addressing this, but the tentative agreement barely does.

99% of our union voted yes to strike authorization and we were all ready to take action Monday, but our leaders seemingly caved to their own interests rather than ours – the laborers suffering abuse. I hope 100% of members vote NO to ratification.

Are you an IATSE member voting no on the tentative agreement? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at [email protected] with your testimony.

Facebook Twitter Share

Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.

Labor Movement

Teachers at Blue Man Group’s School Are on Strike

Educators at the Blue School, the Blue Man Group's School, are on strike today.

The Kids Are Alright: Meet the 17 Year Olds That Want to Unionize Starbucks

They haven't finished high school yet, but they are already fighting to organize the first union at Starbucks in the San Francisco Bay Area. Driven by the unionization wave sweeping the country, two 17-year-olds are organizing with their coworkers through a chat called "Union Babes" and fighting the company's union-busting campaigns.

People protest in support of the unionizing efforts of the Alabama Amazon workers, in Los Angeles, California, March 22, 2021.

Amazon Won’t Stop Union Busting and Firing Organizers

Amazon hasn't recognized the Amazon Labor Union and, like Starbucks, is continuing to union bust and fire organizers.

Luigi Morris

May 20, 2022
SEIU local 721 members at a rally wearing purple and holding signs for fair wage increases.

SEIU 721, Vote No! A Better Contract Is Possible

Union leaders of SEIU 721 have reached a deal with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. But there are big problems with the proposed agreement, and the rank and file should vote against it.

Left Voice

May 20, 2022

MOST RECENT

Reading Rosa Luxemburg’s ‘Junius Pamphlet’ in Times of War

While she was in prison in 1915, Rosa Luxemburg wrote an underground pamphlet titled The Crisis of German Social Democracy. As war rages in Europe, this text has many important insights for socialists.

Nathaniel Flakin

May 26, 2022

All That’s Left Podcast: Socialist Feminism and the Fight for Abortion Rights

In this episode, Tatiana Cozzarelli talks with New York abortion provider Angelique Saavedra to talk about the attacks on abortion rights and the way forward from a socialist feminist perspective.

Left Voice

May 26, 2022

Two Years After the George Floyd Uprising: A Changed Generation, An Unchanged System

George Floyd was murdered two years ago today. It set off a massive uprising that changed a generation.

Inflation: Wages versus Profits

Here, we publish Marxist economist Michael Roberts' analysis of the relationship between wages and profit in the inflationary environment of today.

Michael Roberts

May 25, 2022