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Thirty three New York state Senators have signed a letter blasting “outrageous” working conditions and urging the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to return to a “good faith negotiation” of its Basic Agreement with IATSE. The union, following failed negotiations, has called a nationwide strike authorization vote to take place starting Friday.
“We have heard appalling stories from our constituents who work in the industry, detailing a standard practice of working extensive consecutive days with little to no breaks, resulting in severe impacts on the mental and physical health of these workers,” reads the letter to AMPTP, signed by N.Y. State Senator Jessica Ramos, chair of the N.Y. Senate Labor Committee, and co-signed by 32 additional New York State Senators.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) is holding a strike authorization vote this weekend, after the latest talks between the union and AMPTP failed to produce an agreement. A “Yes” for authorization will require at least 75 percent of the members who vote in each Local, which would be issued by delegate votes. A “Yes” vote would give IATSE president Matthew Loeb authorization to call a strike should leadership decide this is the best course of action.
Issues include wages and rest periods. In the letter, the Senators blast current labor practices as “outrageous, and harmful to the health and safety” of the workers. The letter asserts that AMPTP’s “unwillingness to reasonably or responsibly respond to these and other important issues” has prompted the impasse and strike authorization vote.
The Senators warn that a strike would “dramatically disrupt the industry, the economy, and the communities we represent,” and wrote that they are “hopeful that both sides will negotiate in good faith and reach a consensus agreement.”
Of current working conditions, the Senators write that it has become “commonplace for workers to begin the week with a workday in excess of 12 or more hours, oftentimes without a break for meals, followed by a 10 hour rest break and then back to work for another 12 hour or more workday.”
The letter also shares a story of one IATSE member in New York “who worked a typical week of long hours, with work calls changing from early morning on Monday to a night call overlapping from Friday to Saturday morning. On the last day of the workweek this worker fell asleep at the wheel while on their way home, totaling their vehicle, while miraculously walking away unharmed. Other workers have not been as fortunate, yet these stories are all too typical and illustrate exactly the problem with the current production schedule.”
The letter is co-signed by Senators Krueger, Salazar, Reichlin-Melnick, Hoylman, Kennedy, Gaughran, Sanders, Kaplan, Serrano, Liu, Brouk, Hinchey, Cooney, Boyle, Thomas, Brisport, Skoufis, Mayer, Jackson, Biaggi, Gounardes, Savino, Harckham, Mannion, Kavanaugh, May, Rivera, Comrie, Stavisky, Persaud, Myrie, and Bailey.
Later on Friday, a group of 50 California state legislators including State Senate president pro tempore Toni Atkins, Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, Sen. Dave Cortese, Assemblymember Ash Kalra and Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, sent their own letter to the AMPTP. In the letter, the lawmakers called for “fair successor contracts” with IATSE and added, “The key issues in this negotiation, as we understand them, are about worker dignity and basic human necessities. We are unified in our belief in the importance of living wages, sustainable benefits, and reasonable rest periods between shifts and during the workday.”
Oct. 1, 5:49 p.m. Updated with California state legislators’ letter.
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