Hollywood: Strike deadline looms for 60,000 behind-the-scenes film and TV workers

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, IATSE, is inching closer to a possible strike on Monday.

The union represents more than 60,000 below-the-line workers such as production coordinators, grips and technicians. It has been negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, AMPTP, for five months, but with little success.

IATSE is seeking pay increases for its lowest paid members, new protections for meal breaks and rest periods, and pay scale increases on streaming productions which currently offer lower wages.

And with a 12:01 am Monday deadline, an industry shutdown is looming.

"I think there will be a strike," said Steven Ross, a professor of history at USC who specializes in Hollywood labor issues.

Ross not only says a union strike would shut down most productions across the country, but that other unions are expected to stage sympathy strikes, with effects felt globally.

"This is an international union," Ross told Eyewitness News. "It ripples across the entire country and it ripples across the world because it will stop American films from being exported."

An IATSE spokesman wouldn't comment Friday on negotiations, but the AMPTP issued this statement:

"We remain committed to reaching an agreement at the bargaining table that will keep the entertainment industry working."

Ross says eventually both sides will agree on a deal, but the question is when?

"Instead of who's got the bigger ego, who's got greater power, just be reasonable knowing that you're going to have to settle," he said. "Sit down and settle before Monday."

If IATSE does call for a nationwide strike, it would be a first for the union, which has been around for more than 125 years.
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