Hollywood unions vs. streaming services

Film and TV employees want better pay, fewer 12+ hour days, and for streaming services to pay up.


September 23, 2021

Netflix used to send DVDs in the mail. Now, it’s all about streaming, and a major Hollywood union wants those platforms to pay up.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) is a union with 150k+ members, including editors, costumers, cinematographers, script coordinators, and more.

Back in 2009, IATSE and TV/film studios saw the future of streaming services — AKA “New Media” — as uncertain. Both agreed for “greater flexibility” when it came to employment terms and conditions.

Cut to 2021:

  • Netflix has ~209m subscribers and just crushed the Emmys with 44 wins
  • Amazon Prime has ~200m subscribers; ~175m use it to stream TV/film
  • Disney+ has ~116m subscribers
  • HBO and HBO Max have ~67.5m subscribers

IATSE argues New Media has become regular media now, and should offer the same benefits and pay as other studios.

A big strike is brewing

IATSE has been negotiating a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to no avail, per The Hollywood Reporter. In addition to increased pay for streaming projects, it wants:

  • Shorter hours — many workers cite 12+ hour days
  • Harsher penalties for skipped meals and weekend work
  • Higher base pay for lower-paying jobs

If enough local unions vote to authorize a strike, it could open the door for the biggest strike in Hollywood since 1945.

Meanwhile, industry employees are sharing some brutal work stories to drum up support.

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