Film and TV production in Hollywood and beyond could soon be grinding to an indefinite halt. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees voted overwhelmingly in favor of strike action Monday, Deadline reports. The union says the strike, the first in its 128-year history, was approved by a near unanimous margin of 98.7%, with around 90% of its approximately 60,000 members casting a ballot. Contract talks between the IATSE and a group representing studios have been going on since May, but they have stalled over issues including pay and long hours worked on sets, reports Variety.
IATSE president Matthew Loeb is now expected to call a strike if he is unable to reach a deal with Alliance of Motion Picture Television Producers president Carol Lombardini in the coming days. "This vote is about the quality of life as well as the health and safety of those who work in the film and television industry," Loeb said Monday, per CNN. "Our people have basic human needs like time for meal breaks, adequate sleep, and a weekend. For those at the bottom of the pay scale, they deserve nothing less than a living wage." Union members, he said, "have spoken loud and clear."
"This is the biggest private sector strike in the US in 10+ years, and the first in the industry's 128-year history," tweeted economist Robert Reich, who was secretary of labor during Bill Clinton's first term. "A milestone moment for the labor movement." The AMPTP said in a statement that it is "committed to reaching an agreement that will keep the industry working" and wants to work with crew members "to avoid shutting down the industry at such a pivotal time." (Read more labor unions stories.)