LOS ANGELES – An 11th-hour deal was reached late Saturday, averting a strike of film and television crews that would have seen some 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers walk off their jobs, freezing productions in Hollywood and across the USA.
After days of marathon negotiations, representatives from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the studios and entertainment companies who employ them reached the three-year contract agreement before a Monday strike deadline, avoiding a serious setback for an industry that had just gotten back to work after long pandemic shutdowns.
“This is a Hollywood ending,” union president Matthew Loeb said. “Our members stood firm.”
The workers still must vote to approve it, but the strike has been called off with the tentative deal.
Many in Hollywood celebrated the news.
“Good for @IATSE for standing your ground. And don’t forget we got your back anytime you need us,” comedian, actor and writer Patton Oswalt wrote on Twitter.
Yvette Nicole Brown, another actor, comic and writer, tweeted ”#UnionStrong!” along with a link to a story reporting the agreement.
“Congratulations IATSE brothers and sisters!” Jennifer Garner wrote in her Instagram Stories.
The effects of the strike would have been immediate, with crews on long-term productions as well as daily series such as network talk shows walking off their jobs. Shows with short turnarounds like soap operas would also have felt immediate effects.
The union represents cinematographers, camera operators, set designers, carpenters, hair and makeup artists and many others.
Union members said previous contracts allowed their employers to force them to work excessive hours and deny them reasonable rest with meal breaks and sufficient time off between shifts. Leaders said the lowest paid crafts were receiving unlivable wages and streaming outlets including Netflix, Apple and Amazon were allowed to work them even harder for less money.
Members of the crew union have been vocal on social media about the need for producers to pay more attention to the lives of those working behind the scenes.
"How am I supposed to have a family while working 12+ hours a day (even longer when you add commuting)?" would-be striker Kirsten Thorson wrote on Instagram. "I love my job in the film industry but the industry doesn't love me back."
Top actors have come out in support of the strike in past weeks, knowing that their jobs wouldn't exist without the armies behind them. And most are themselves part of their own union, the Screen Actors Guild.
"I just spent 9 months working with an incredibly hard working crew of film makers through very challenging conditions," Ben Stiller wrote on Twitter. "Totally support them in fighting for better conditions."
IATSE’S statement on Saturday said the agreement “addresses core issues, including reasonable rest periods; meal breaks; a living wage for those on the bottom of the pay scale; and significant increases in compensation to be paid by new-media companies.”
The union reported on Oct. 4 that its members had voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, setting off industry-wide fears, but talks immediately resumed between IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios and other entertainment companies in negotiations.
“We went toe to toe with some of the richest and most powerful entertainment and tech companies in the world, and we have now reached an agreement with the AMPTP that meets our members’ needs,” Loeb said.
Loeb said in a statement last week that the union would continue bargaining with producers in the hopes of reaching an agreement.
“However, the pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency,” Loeb said. “Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”
AMPTP spokesman Jarryd Gonzales confirmed the agreement had been reached.
A Monday strike deadline was set on Wednesday when talks stagnated, but the union said subsequent negotiations were productive.
It would have been the first nationwide strike in the 128-year history of IATSE, and would have affected not just the Los Angeles area and New York but growing production hubs like Georgia, New Mexico and Colorado.
During negotiations, many prominent names in entertainment spoke out in favor of the union’s demands, including Octavia Spencer, Mindy Kaling and Jane Fonda. The Directors Guild of America issued a statement of solidarity, too, signed by Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Barry Jenkins, Ron Howard and Ava DuVernay.
Contributing: Marco della Cava, USA TODAY, and Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hollywood strike averted; IATSE applauded by Jennifer Garner for deal