The pandemic has exacerbated working conditions and heightened risks across many industries, but as you’re settling in for your next Netflix binge, spare a thought to the 60,000+ crew members working behind the scenes on these shows.
Currently at breaking point, they are fighting against excessively unsafe and harmful working hours and ‘unlivable’ wages. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) is the union that represents TV production workers in the States – and right now, their members are gearing up for a massive strike.
“We risked our health and safety all year, working through the pandemic to ensure that our business emerged intact. Now, we cannot and will not accept a deal that leaves us with an unsustainable outcome.”
This statement was shared in a recent IATSE media statement, and #IAsolidarity is getting a lot of love from some high-profile fellow unionists. Mindy Kaling tweeted, ‘The crews are the backbones of our industry. First ones in, last ones out. They deserve safe conditions and attainable health care.’
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin posted pics of themselves posing in t-shirts supporting strike action. Seth Rogan tweeted, ‘Our films and movies literally would not exist without our crews, and our crews deserve better.’ And Melanie Lynskey summed it up perfectly: ‘I worry for people driving home after 16-hour days. I worry for people who don’t see their families. I worry for people whose exhaustion exacerbates mental and physical health issues.’
For months, the unionists have been attempting to secure a new, three-year basic agreement which would cover thousands of camera operators, costume designers, prop makers and other behind-the-scenes workers. But the employer group, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), recently announced it does not intend to make any counteroffer to the IATSE’s most recent proposal. The union is scathing about the AMPTP’s stance, stating, “Management does not appear to even recognize our core issues as problems that exist in the first place.
“It is incomprehensible that the AMPTP, an ensemble that includes media mega-corporations collectively worth trillions of dollars, claims it cannot provide behind-the-scenes crews with basic human necessities like adequate sleep, meal breaks, and living wages.”
A-lister Hollywood celebs have come out strongly in solidarity with the behind-the-scenes production crew workers currently fighting for fairer pay and safer working conditions.