October 26, 2021

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Hollywood’s exploited workers speak out

2 min read

Last weekend, tens of thousands of members of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. With 89.66% of eligible members participating and 98% voting to authorize the strike, the vote could lead 60,000 workers to walk off the job and bring the entertainment industry to a halt. As consumers, we tend to associate the entertainment industry with acting stars, elite directors and producers, and big studio executives, but hundreds and and even thousands of workers make every production possible, and many of them are grossly underpaid, overworked, and denied basic necessities like breaks and time to sleep between shifts. Combined with the explosion of streaming services and ever-increasing demands for studio-quality productions, workers in the entertainment industry are being run into the ground, and they have reached a breaking point.

IATSE represents over 150,000 technicians, artisans, and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theatre, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada. The union is composed of many different locals, not all of which are currently voting to authorize a strike. According to Deadline, "there are actually two separate strike authorization votes going on—one among the union’s 13 Hollywood production locals covered by the Basic Agreement, and the other covering 23 different locals outside Los Angeles who work under the Area Standards Agreement." In this special Working People episode, recorded on Oct. 1, while the strike authorization vote was taking place, we talk to a panel of IATSE members and hear firsthand about the work they do, the unfair working conditions they’re fighting against, and the significance of the strike vote. Panelists include Marisa Shipley (Local 871), David McMahon (Local 52), and Fae Weichsel (Local 600).

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