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“Hollywood Unions Threaten Historic Strike Against AMPTP in Contract Negotiations”

Hollywood Unions Threaten Historic Strike Against AMPTP in Contract Negotiations

A coalition of Hollywood’s below-the-line unions has issued a strong warning to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). On the eve of their contract negotiations, the unions threatened to go on strike if their demands were not met. This potential work stoppage follows strikes by industry writers and actors in 2023, which severely impacted the entertainment industry and left it struggling to recover.

The rally, titled “Many Crafts, One Fight,” took place at Woodley Park in Encino, drawing a crowd of around a thousand people, with nearly a thousand more watching the live-stream online. The event aimed to express solidarity among the unions and build momentum for their negotiations with the AMPTP.

One of the key messages repeated throughout the rally was, “Nothing moves without the crew.” Michael Miller, vice president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), emphasized this point, urging the AMPTP to pay attention to their demands.

This year marks a significant development as the Hollywood Basic Crafts group, which includes Teamsters Local 399, IBEW Local 40, LiUNA! Local 724, OPCMIA Local 755, and UA Local 78, joins forces with IATSE to negotiate their health and pension benefits with the AMPTP. These talks are set to begin on Monday.

The rally saw strong support from “above-the-line” unions such as SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Their members showed up with signs and leaders expressed gratitude for the solidarity. Michele Mulroney, vice president of WGA West, acknowledged the support from crew members during their own strike in 2023, stating that without them, their words would have been meaningless.

However, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) received a more muted reaction. Many in the Hollywood labor movement criticized the DGA for being too quick to acquiesce during the 2023 strikes. The DGA’s perceived lack of support and their gains from pattern bargaining after the strikes further fueled resentment within the union.

The rally also featured speeches from other labor leaders, including Lorena Gonzalez, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, and Yvonne Wheeler, president of the L.A. County Federation of Labor. Both leaders emphasized the importance of fair wages and benefits for below-the-line workers.

Lindsay Dougherty, head of the Hollywood Teamsters, served as the MC for the event and listed key demands related to rest, safety, and compensation. She made it clear that they were prepared to strike if necessary. Sean O’Brien, national president of the Teamsters, delivered a pointed speech, referring to entertainment companies as “the white-collar crime syndicate.” He emphasized the determination of the unions and their willingness to take action.

Matt Loeb, president of IATSE, called on the crowd to fight for their fair share, stating that the studios could afford to give more. The below-the-line unions have been vocal about the challenges their benefits plans face following the 2023 strikes. Funding to the plans took a hit during the work stoppages, and actions taken to support members during that time also had an impact.

In these negotiations, labor’s priorities include increasing retirement accrual rates and securing new funding from streaming platforms. The unions recognize the need for sustainable benefits and have come together in historic fashion due to recent hardships.

Following the joint benefits negotiations, IATSE will negotiate its Basic Agreement and Area Standards Agreement before their expiration on July 31. Teamsters Local 399 will address craft-specific issues in talks projected to begin in June.

Rally attendees expressed a readiness to endure another strike if necessary. They are demanding affordable living in Los Angeles, where they work. The lack of job opportunities even before the 2023 strikes and the uncertainty brought by advancements in AI technology have heightened the urgency for better protections.

Overall, the rally served as a show of unity and determination among Hollywood’s below-the-line unions. With negotiations set to begin, the unions are prepared to take action to secure fair wages, benefits, and working conditions for their members. The outcome of these negotiations will have a significant impact on the future of the entertainment industry.


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