With IATSE members set to begin voting Friday for a strike authorization, the union’s leaders say they have a message for Hollywood’s media conglomerates: “You’re gonna change the way you do business.”
The union’s petition calling for the companies to give the union a fair contract, meanwhile, has now passed 100,000 signatures.
“The idea of a living wage for the lowest-earning in our crafts is something that shouldn’t be news to these companies that are worth trillions, make billions off of our work, and are talking to us about pennies,” Mike Miller, IATSE’s vice president in charge of the union’s West Coast office, said at a recent Hollywood rally at the Editors Guild in support of a fair contract. “It’s time for a living wage and sustainable benefits.”
Watch video of the rally above.
The fight for a fair contract, he said, standing beside Editors Guild national executive director Cathy Repola, comes down to a fight for human dignity and human rights. “These basic dignities are also the most of basic human rights,” he said during Sunday’s rally. “The idea that anyone can go an entire workday without a guaranteed meal break; the unsafe hours that we work are no longer tenable, and we’re not talking about anything other than being able to have a break between shifts so you can eat and you can sleep and you can come back and work; and you can get yourself home from work safely.”
With regard to the union’s demand for a bigger share of the companies’ revenues from new media, he said: “We made a commitment with them to partner, almost 14 years ago when the original New Media provisions went into our agreement, and they made a commitment that ‘If you come along as we grow this business, you’ll share in the growth and you’ll share in the future prosperity.’ Well, they’re successful and they’re growing, and we want our share and they have to keep their word.
“And with the largest entertainment media conglomerates in the world, the IATSE is forced to fight for the weekend,” Miller added. “That is a basic core tenant that unions fought for and won decades ago, and they’re not gonna take it from us.
“The response from the employers is: ‘We’re not gonna change the way that we do business.’ And our response to that is: ‘That’s why unions exist, and thank you for why unions matter 101. Because we’re here to tell you that you’re gonna change the way you do business,’” Miller said.
The union, he said, is up for the fight.
“They don’t believe we’re serious,” Miller said. “They think we’re weakened and we’re scared because of the pandemic. What they’re wrong about is that we’re not weakened and we’re not scared. We’re tired and we’re hungry and we’re fed up. They’ve been trying to divide us since day one. They’ve been trying to divide us by craft; they’ve been trying to divide us by earnings; they’ve been trying to divide us by local; they’ve been trying to divide us by region, and they’ve been trying to divide us by contract. And all they’ve done in every attempt to divide us is they’ve made us stronger and brought us together and made us put ourselves in the position to show them that they will not split this union. We are one union. We are 13 locals in Hollywood; we are more than two dozen locals across the country, and they will not carve us up over the most basic worker rights and human dignity.”
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the companies’ bargaining arm, has said that it is “committed to reaching an agreement at the bargaining table that balances the needs of both parties and will keep the industry working ” and that “a strike will have a devastating impact on the industry and inevitably will result in thousands of IATSE members losing their income, failing to qualify for health insurance benefits, jeopardizing funding for the pension plan and disrupting production.”
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