Hollywood Studios, including Walt Disney Studios, are currently involved in a significant dispute with IATSE, (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees), who are a union that has over 60,000 behind the scenes film and tv workers in the US, that what to improve all entertainment workers’ lives both inside and outside the workplace. Members of the union include cinematographers, camera operators, set designers, carpenters, hair and makeup artists, animators and many other workers.
Many people working on the movies and series we love on Disney+ are made by a massive team of people, many of whom are working very long days, for not much money, which many believe to be unsafe, especially as studios are pushing for content to be made quickly, to try to catch up on the loss of time caused by the pandemic, which saw production shut down for months. The union want to improve benefits and health care for their members, including making sure their workers get proper rest periods between shifts, a living wage, adequate lunch breaks and dealing with the impact of COVID on the workplace such as testing, etc. They want to improve many other issues, including getting streaming services to pay more to their workers.
The negotiations have been going on for a while, but IATSE put a deadline in place this past week, since they felt the negotiations weren’t moving forward. The union asked for permission from their members to go on strike, which was given through a vote by members. This resulted in a strike being given the go-ahead.
Currently, the studios and the union are in last-minute discussions to stop a strike beginning on Monday 18th October, which would see all 60,000 behind the scenes workers on films and movies in the US refusing to work for up to 90 days.
Should the strike go ahead, this will result in the shutdown of many films and series being created by Disney, including the third season of “The Mandalorian” or Marvel’s “Secret Invasion”, along with countless other shows like “Grey’s Anatomy”. It also could have an impact on many films and series that have already been filmed, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, Hawkeye, and Ms. Marvel, which are currently in post-production. Should the people making those shows, such as editors or visual effect artists, be members of the union, they also won’t be working on those projects, leading to potential delays in them being released.
While the Union does impact mainly on the US and Canada production, even if Disney is creating series and films in other countries such as the UK, production could be impacted as UK broadcasting union Bectu has recently urged members to “do nothing to undermine the IATSE action” and say no if offered the work of a striking IATSE member.
The strike could last up months, but negotiations are ongoing all this weekend, to try to avoid a strike. Neither side wants the strike to go ahead, since the studios want content created and the union members want to work, especially after months of production being shut down next year. But the safety and wellbeing of the union members is vital.
Hopefully, a deal can be struck over the weekend, so the union members get better working conditions, and the studios continue to create new films and shows for us to enjoy.