IATSE Union Strike

Hollywood has a strike at Balboa Park to negotiate contracts for the thousands of people laid-off due to AI.
IATSE Group Picture
IATSE Group Picture
Sean Hunt

In the early hours of a bright Sunday morning, a multitude of Hollywood crew members and their allies congregated amidst the muddy terrain of Balboa Park. Their purpose? To exhibit a formidable display of solidarity as they geared up for imminent contract negotiations with major players in the film and TV industry.

Many students at Northridge Academy High School are interested in careers in film, theater, and entertainment. This is one of the biggest guilds within that industry that will impact the future of some of our Puma students if they pursue careers in entertainment.

Within the sea of tents, adorned with rallying cries like “Fighting for living wages” and “Nothing moves without the crew,” representatives spanning various disciplines from cinematography to costume design stood united. Among them, Matthew Leob, the international president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), voiced the collective demand for fairness and equitable compensation for all industry workers. Organized by a coalition of unions including IATSE and Teamsters, the rally highlighted the ongoing labor unrest that has reverberated through the entertainment sector. Following the historic gains made by writers and actors through prolonged strikes, other essential behind-the-scenes workers, including camera operators and makeup artists, are now pressing for similar advancements in their working conditions and pay scales.

Scheduled to commence contract talks with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers, the unions representing over 66,000 Hollywood crew members, a combined force of IASTE, Teamsters Local 399, and the Hollywood Basic Crafts, are poised for negotiations with a united front.

Embracing a wave of labor activism that has forged unprecedented solidarity among formerly disparate entities, these unions are embarking on joint bargaining sessions for the first time in 36 years. Despite negotiating separate terms, they stand united in their pursuit of improved pension and health benefits alongside other contractual arrangements. During their demands for wage increases in line with inflation and updates to overtime provisions, attention is also drawn to the evolving landscape of technology within the industry. Concerns center on safeguarding jobs against the creaking scare of artificial intelligence and the potential displacement posed by autonomous vehicles.

Yet, as negotiations loom, both sides recognize the stakes involved. Another strike could prove detrimental to an industry still reeling from recent disruptions, yet the consequences of failing to address workers’ grievances could be equally dire.

Historically, IATSE has charted a less confrontational path, preferring to prioritize employment stability. However, growing discontent among rank-and-file members has signaled a shifting tide, with authorization for strike action looming on the horizon.

As script coordinator Nicole “Colby,” Bachiller aptly notes, the demands put forth by the unions represent not an extravagance but rather the bare minimum necessary for dignified livelihoods. Their aspirations align with recent gains secured by other industry guilds, signaling a collective push for equitable treatment.

Moreover, concerns extend beyond mere financial compensation to encompass fundamental issues of safety and healthcare, particularly in light of recent tragic incidents on film and TV sets. In the face of technological advancements that threaten to reshape the industry, both IATSE and Teamsters remain resolute in their commitment to safeguarding the livelihoods of their members. As negotiations unfold, the future of Hollywood’s workforce hangs in the balance, with the hope that mutual understanding and collaboration will pave the way toward a sustainable and equitable future.

This is the future of what AI can do to our society and workforce as a whole. The students of Northridge Academy High School should be wary of the use of AI as it might impact them in the future regarding careers.

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