A Hollywood strike is looming involving more than 100,000 workers associated with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE.) If the strike happens, could it have an impact on Hallmark’s Christmas movies? The answer isn’t clear, but it’s a possibility.
A Strike Might Impact Hallmark Christmas Movies
There’s a chance that a major strike might have an impact on the production of Hallmark Christmas movies. IATSE is a major union encompassing more than 150,000 film, theater, and TV workers, Indiewire reported. It’s currently negotiating a three-year contract with AMPTP (the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.) IATSE is seeking better wages, shooting breaks, better meal breaks, and pensions that reflect cost-of-living changes. They are also trying to negotiate higher rates for streaming productions.
Los Angeles Times reported that some experts believe a strike is likely at this point, although the two sides might continue extending the contract first.
On August 31, IATSE President Matthew Loeb said reaching a deal without a strike might be difficult.
Loeb said: “Despite first-person testimonials, specific examples, and our multiple counter proposals in response to the employers’ stated concerns, we remain very far apart. We have made some progress, but the employers have indicated they have done all they need to do.”
So how would this affect Hallmark movies if a strike happened? The Twitter account @SleepyKittyPaw, which is known for accurate updates about Hallmark productions and inside information, noted that some Hallmark movies are made with union labor. So while not every Christmas movie would be affected, it is likely that some will be.
They wrote on Twitter: “Not every Christmas movie is made with union labor, but Hallmark Christmas movies are, so if IATSE strikes, could seriously affect the network’s 2021 holiday output. Post-production could be an issue for other channels as well.”
IATSE has been involved in smaller pickets and strikes directed at Hallmark productions specifically in the past. When Jon Voight was shooting the sequel to “J.L. Ranch” in 2019, camera crews went on strike over pay, including IATSE Local 600, WLKY reported. They said they weren’t being paid for overtime.
Back in 2009, 50 IATSE workers picketed The Hallmark Channel for the contract it had with Larry Levinson Productions. Some of the IATSE protesters had been replaced with non-union workers, Deadline reported.
IATSE Is Negotiating for Better Wages, Breaks & More
The last time the IATSE had a major strike was during World War II, LA Times reported. Deadline reported on September 11 that IATSE and AMPTP still had not reached a deal yet. An extention had expired at midnight on September 10 (the original contracted expired on July 31), but negotiations continued. For now, IATSE said, “the status quo remains in effect and all members should continue to report to work.”
Indiewire described in detail what IATSE members are negotiating for. They include seeking livable, industry standard wages from giants like Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Facebook. They’re also seeking better health and retirement benefits that reflect inflation, along with recognition that New Media (streaming) is now an industry-standard that should pay industry-standard wages.
The IATSE is also noting that employees in their industries don’t get reasonable breaks between workdays, actual weekends, and the like. They noted: “No other industry deprives its employees enough time to drive to and from work and get eight hours sleep every workday, week after week, after week.”
Studios have been pushing back from the demands, citing losses from the pandemic, Los Angeles Times reported. The AMPTP includes Warner Bros., Netflix, and other major studios.