Entertainment

A Historic Strike Vote of Film & TV Workers Forced Studios to Negotiate Over Working Conditions

The 98.7% strike vote from 90% of IATSE union members is huge leverage in improving the working conditions of exploited TV, movie, and theater craftspeople.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

By now, if you’ve been on social media at all and/or are adjacent to any sort of media community, you’ve probably seen the acronym IATSE floating around, as well as talk of fair wages, long working hours, and the possibility of a strike. The IATSE, which stands for International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees, is a labor union representing over 150,000 tech workers and craftspeople-workers behind the camera, in the costume or prop department, designing and constructing sets, for example-all over the filmed and theatrical entertainment industries of both the US and Canada, and, like many of the rest of us, came back to set with new expectations for their extremely demanding jobs. (Disclosure: Thrillist is unionized with the Writers Guild of America East.) Here’s why this fight between on-set workers and studios-especially streaming platforms-is a big, big deal for the TV, film, and theater world.
 

What’s going on with the IATSE workers?

It’s been a year since many film and television productions started up again after their COVID hiatus, and the workers are feeling the strain of working long hours away from home, and timing commutes and mealtimes around the strain of keeping up with demanding production schedules. If Facebook and all its territories weren’t currently down, I’d link to the @ia_stories Instagram here, an account that has been posting anonymous stories from on-set workers across the media landscape, detailing the ways they have been overworked and abused, either recently or in the past.

The conditions these people work in to make our TV shows and movies and news broadcasts and live theatrical productions happen are dire, to say the least-a work day could easily stretch out to 14 or more hours-and the IATSE union has been in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) since May of this year until reaching this bargaining standstill.
 

What do the unions want?

The unions represented by IATSE are seeking guaranteed 10-hour turnaround between shifts, 54-hour turnaround on weekends, increased base pay, increased meal penalties, a way to force-stop productions to break for lunch, and changes to the “New Media” deal struck with streaming platforms in 2009, which basically allows said streaming platforms to not pay out residuals and contribute less to the healthcare and pension funds of IATSE members than other “traditional” media. Obviously, the content consuming landscape looks much different than it did back when Netflix was still mailing DVDs to people, and the union is demanding that these corporate giants start paying their share.

“For too long these billion-dollar streaming companies have been abusing the ‘New Media’ contract to pay all of us less and it needs to stop,” an anonymous IATSE member shared with SlashFilm. “There is nothing new and experimental about digital streaming services anymore. They are the standard now, COVID times have proved that, and they all need to pay their fare [sic] share instead of pocketing the extra profits.”
 

Is IATSE going to strike?

On Monday, October 4, the 150,000 IATSE members voted in a historic turnout for a strike authorization, which passed with 98.7% support and 90% turnout, an insane number that speaks to the power of union organizing, as well as to the inhumane working conditions these people have to deal with. A strike would shutter productions on pretty much everything for an untold amount of time. Remember the 2007-2008 writers strike? That impacted everything from cable news to entire seasons of Lost and Supernatural.

The IATSE, which last held a strike in 1945, made it clear that no one in the unions wants to strike, and were instead hoping that this would fortify their position at the bargaining table, and force the studios to sit back down and hear them out. There’s a high demand for workers as studios are still scrambling to make up for the lost COVID year, so they feel there’s no better time than now to negotiate for fairer conditions.

Later Monday evening, AMPTP released a statement agreeing to go back to the bargaining table on Tuesday, October 5:

“[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. A deal can be made at the bargaining table, but it will require both parties working together in good faith with a willingness to compromise and to explore new solutions to resolve the open issues.”

Aside from an actual strike, this is exactly the result that the historic strike authorization vote called for, and anyone who consumes any sort of filmed or live media entertainment content (that is, all of us) should be thrilled. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that below-the-line workers get livable job conditions after this.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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