“All that is old is new… “As the song says. And so, hello again, Under the line. And hello also to a IATSE it’s decidedly more militant than any of its previous incarnations.

Indeed, the last time Hollywood artisans staged a walkout, the AI ​​was actually on the otherside r. That is to say that of the studios, of which, more in a minute. (It should be noted that it was so long ago that there was no TV industry yet, and certainly no way to watch a movie on a phone).

As you already know, the IATSE voted on the first weekend of October to authorize the first national strike in its 128-year history. A story that began with Vaudeville and Broadway, and continued into the digital age, where the union broke the news of itself Twitter feed.

And that was a pretty impressive tally: a half-hearted whisper of a 90% turnout and a second half-hearted whisper of 99% of “yes” on the strike issue.

Cathy Repola

Local 700 Executive. Director Cathy Repola

Not that you couldn’t already tell where the vote was heading. On the Saturday before the vote was announced, we met at a Car Painting Drive-Thru in the adjacent parking lots of Locals IA 700 and 600 – the Film publishers, and International Guild of Filmmakers.

The idea was to boost the support and general good nature in the trenches by adorning all the cars that arrived with slogans such as “Your health or their wealth”, “Netflix, leave me Chill” and “You can’t solve this. problem in the post, “with a lot of” Vote yes! stenciled proclamations and closed fists (at least one adorned with Wolverine-like talons). Thus, the message would literally be carried on the streets, in LA cultivated by car, from the suburbs of Simi to the alleys of Larchmont Village, and beyond.

The neighboring lots were along Sunset Boulevard, that same multi-story avenue from which William Holden recounts an entire Billy Wilder movie after drowning in a swimming pool, and Gloria Swanson informs us that the footage is growing. smaller. Which, to get back to phones, may be true in a literal sense. But they’re also bigger in that they’re everywhere you can find a pixelated screen with a power supply, and maybe it’s that ravenous mouth, and this need for “content,” that is one of the things. driving forces behind our current stalemate.

Which, hopefully, for all parties concerned, will not remain deadlocked for too long: the word comes as this is written, that the overwhelming support the AI ​​toss brings both sides back to the negotiating table on Tuesday morning.

Rebecca Rhine

Williams interviewing the executive of Local 700. Director Rebecca Rhin

But the import can be “much bigger than the entertainment industry”, like Rebecca Rhine 600’s national executive director, told us, saying that ohe way of conceptualizing was at stake was to think of a Amazon worker in a warehouse, or on a platform, or a Apple employee assembling “iGear” in a warehouse, or working on a sound stage, all involved in the same general economic struggle. “This is the fight,” she said, “and now is the time.”

His counterpart at 700, national director general Cathy Repola, thought the AMPTP would be quite aware of the timing as well, once the strike authorization was announced. “I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be a little worried,” she said. The return to the table seems to confirm this.

Marc McGorry

Marc McGorry

Especially since there is broad support for more humane working conditions for crew members from other unions and guilds beyond the local unions concerned. Repola noted that a member of the DGA had arrived, seeking to donate money, and the American Federation of Musicians had recently provided support.

FALLING member and How to get away with a murder and Orange is the new black actor Matt McGorry was there too, chatting with 700 board members Jason brotman, who also presides over this Guild Group of young workers (defined as anyone 35 years of age or younger).

McGorry said that while he felt “lucky to have worked on sets for the past decade,” he felt increasingly bad for the team working alongside him, with their hours even longer. , especially knowing that he, at least, “would have some free time … You can be in this industry as an actor,” he continued, “and not be aware of the unfairness of treatment for crews.

It was, of course, the stuff of IA’s Instagram account with its anonymous sharing of abusive producers, missed marriages or childhood events by parents forced to hurry after major surgery, miscarriages, etc., or even postpone medical care during production. All because it’s supposed to be glamorous that someone else will surely salivate to take your job.

“All we ask,” says Brotman, “is to be treated fairly.” Is wanting to be away for his family really such a subversive requirement?

Rebecca Rhine

Rebecca Rhin, Loca 700 Exec. Director

Well, the AI ​​of old might have thought so. We talked about an earlier version of the union that was quite opposed to strikes. In March 1945, the old Studio Union Conference called for a walkout, which the IA then opposed. On October 5 of the same year – the anniversary of which falls at the time of this article’s publication – the two sides come to blows before Warner Bros. Studios, with at least two dozen injured in what has been called “Bloody Friday”. Local police showed up, from Burbank, LA and elsewhere, and as you can guess, they were not on the striking side.

Tear gas was fired, fire hoses were thrown, bricks were thrown in response, arrests were made and, although a deal was reached later in the month, conflicts continued. between the two groups of workers. A Los Angeles Times turn-of-the-century article by the late film historian Nora Sayre, describes the eventual CSU lockdown of the studios as the final blow “that has defeated CSU and – many thought – the possibility of enlightened unions.” Ejected from the studios, some CSU members began to form rival unions, and the remnants of the CSU were gradually dispersed.

Aided and encouraged by Hollywood Brewing McCarthyism, which had the backing of the AI ​​chief Roy Brewer, which Sayre described as a “passionate red lover”.

And so began the amalgamation of reasonable working conditions perceived as somehow “un-American”. At least until now. But many worms have changed since then.

What would Brewer have done with the current AI president? Matthew loebcomments from, in a much more recent edition of Times, that – while he reiterated the main problems of “Meals and breaks during the day; rest periods between shifts and weekends; a living wage for the lowest paid people; and some suitable adjustments to new media [streaming] based on its maturity “- also said that studios and tech companies have” been talking about power, not reason, so my reading is if they see the strike authorization passed, then they will come back perhaps to reason and to the negotiating table. But if it is about power, it is a problem.

Problems here in Angel City. And beyond.

Meanwhile, back along Sunset Boulevard, people were there to lend their support who weren’t even unionized at all. One was a post-production coordinator on a streaming series hooked up to a rather remarkable “IP”, bringing together music, editing and visual effects (one would assume that visual effects workers also work without union representation.) Her job category, she said, “has no union representation,” and she was paying $ 400 a month out of pocket for her own health insurance, to begin with.

It may take a village (and the passage of a few decades) to make a successful labor movement, but organizing the many job classes that could also benefit from a revitalized movement is, she said, “a whole other thing. town”.

Meanwhile, a village, a union parking lot (in fact, two of them) and a strike authorization, all at the same time.

More soon.

Mark London WilliamsThe Strike Alert column will appear every Tuesday. You can reach him to give him advice and comments at [email protected].

All the photographer’s photos Ramin yashid, unless otherwise stated. (Click the image for larger versions.)

(Photo by Mark L Williams)

(Photo by Mark L Williams)

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Jason brotman

Jason brotman

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(Photo by Mark L. Williams)

(Photo by Mark L. Williams)

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