The weekend saw tens of thousands of members in the crew union vote on whether to allow the organization’s leader to call a strike if deemed necessary. The resounding response was “YES.”
Signaling overwhelming support for its union’s battle with producersover two expiring contracts, as widely expected, IATSE members have voted to authorize an industry-wide strike. This marks the first authorization of a nationwide strike in the union’s history.
Over 98 percent of eligible members from 36 Locals voted to authorize a strike in the momentous contest for IATSE which bargains on behalf of over 150,000 crew members internationally, including cinematographers, operators, grips, editors, costumers and writers assistants, among others. This strike authorization vote concerns around 60,000, or about 40 percent, of those workers. Meanwhile, about 90 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot. Members voted simultaneously between October 1 and October 3 via ballots that were emailed to them, a little under two weeks after international president Matthew D. Loeb announced to members that the union would take the step amid stalled contract talks.
Now, the question is how IATSE intends to use this bargaining chip. According to the union, the vote was prompted by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studio and production companies, declining to respond to their latest package proposal in ongoing negotiations over a new three-year basic agreement. “This failure to continue negotiating can only be interpreted one way. They simply will not address the core issues we have repeatedly advocated for from the beginning,” Loeb and leaders of 13 West Coast locals wrote in a letter to membership on September 20th.
In a statement on Monday about the results of the strike authorization vote, the AMPTP said, “The AMPTP remains committed to reaching an agreement that will keep the industry working. We deeply value our IATSE crew members and are committed to working with them to avoid shutting down the industry at such a pivotal time, particularly since the industry is still recovering from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.”