ATLANTA (CBS46) -- Production teams on movie and TV sets across the country say they’re getting in a position to go on strike if work conditions don’t improve.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) represents more than 150,000 people, the creatives being the scenes, who are demanding better.

Atlanta's IATSE local 479 president Ray Brown spoke exclusively to CBS46 before he went to work on the set of the show “P-Valley,” filming in Midtown.

“A typical day for us is 12 hours and we often go 14, 15, 16 hours a day,” Brown said. “So we can work 70, 75, 80 hours a week and that is become the norm. Many of us, most of us, have families and loved ones that’s just part of the big picture of what we are trying to adjust: the long work weeks, the short turnarounds, and the quality of life issues for us,” Brown added.

Walking around Midtown Atlanta this week, there are several movie and TV sets spanning several blocks from rooftops to sidewalks to city streets. Some of the crew members have told CBS46 they want better pay and more reasonable hours.

The IATSE calls itself “the union behind entertainment.” Every few years it negotiates a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), but this summer, bargaining fell apart. IATSE members saying the AMPTP conglomerate won’t address their workplace issues. The union lists its “most grievous” concerns on the IATSE website, which include:

• “Excessively unsafe and harmful working hours.

• Unlivable wages for the lowest paid crafts.

• Consistent failure to provide reasonable rest during meal breaks, between workdays, and on weekends.

• Workers on certain “new media” streaming projects get paid less, even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters."

On the IATSE website, a release about the possible strike states, "It is incomprehensible that the AMPTP, an ensemble that includes media mega-corporations collectively worth trillions of dollars, claims it cannot provide behind-the-scenes crews with basic human necessities like adequate sleep, meal breaks, and living wages. Worse, management does not appear to even recognize our core issues as problems that exist in the first place.”

Contrary to how it may appear, Brown, who is a 35-year industry veteran, says the creative teams behind the scenes do not want not disrupt the industry.

“One of our requests is that the AMPTP keep up with the cost-of-living expenses,” Brown said. “They’re cutting our cost of living expenses in half and its inexplicable. They refuse to bargain with us in good faith and it’s a bit disrespectful.”

They are waiting on their international president and negotiating board to make the final say on a strike.

“A strike would mean a complete shutdown of the motion picture business,” Brown said. “Sets would go dark. No makeup gets applied. No lights get turned on. No cameras roll. The actors wouldn’t have anything to do. The drivers wouldn’t come in. it would have a huge consequence,” Brown explained.

The strike authorization vote will likely go out next week, he says, and production teams across the union will know if they are approved to strike about a week later.

“We are not wanting to see a strike,” Brown told CBS46. “We are not hoping for a strike. We hope this is resolved peacefully and quietly.”

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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