For the past few months, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which includes 13 Hollywood local unions, has been trying to negotiate a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) i.e. the management, before the contract expiration deadline, which has been extended a number of times already.
The current deadline is this coming Friday, September 10, and the heads of the two groups will be meeting Thursday to try to hash out an agreement.
On Tuesday night, the union sent out a notice to its membership (via Deadline) that could be bracing the group for a possible walkout in a few weeks if the two parties can’t come to an agreement. The notice included the following statement:
“Our goal is to reach every single one of our members and make sure they know what is going on in negotiations; where to go get more information; and, when the moment comes, how to make their voices heard by voting. We don’t know what the vote will be — contract ratification or strike authorization — but we know it is coming, and we need local members to speak out in large numbers.”
This is the first time the word “strike” has been used in these particular negotiations by the union, which represents more than 150,000 workers in live theater, motion picture and TV production, trade shows and exhibitions, television broadcasting and concerts.
This message to members seems to be more a call for volunteers to help organize in case a decision can’t be met at the Thursday meeting.
From the same message to members,
“We need your help! If you are willing and able to volunteer for a few hours over the next month to help with text-messaging outreach to educate and inform local members, let us know. … The texting will likely place during a relatively short window between our next bargaining session on September 9 and the end of this month. Our power lies in our membership, and we need to harness that power to win a better contract.”
Obviously, no one wants to see a strike happen, especially as Broadway seems to be readying itself to reopen this month and over the coming months. It’s a little unclear if a strike would involve theater workers as well as those working in television and film, but this would not be a great time for any strike, and clearly, this is an attempt to get AMPTP to bend on its stance in the negotiations to meet some of IATSE’s expected policy changes in terms of sharing streaming revenue, better and safer working hours and conditions, and other issues that are preventing an agreement from going to a membership vote.
Presumably, we will have an answer to this question by next week. This is breaking news, and we’ve reached out to IATSE for a comment or response.