Hollywood won’t be largely shut down by a strike of 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers that had been slated to start Monday, after International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union representing those workers, announced a tentative deal with the major studios over the weekend. But the workers still have to ratify the deal once it’s finalized, and many are voicing discontent about what’s in it. That echoes the process leading up to the ongoing strike of 10,000 John Deere workers: Their union leadership presented them with a tentative deal and the workers voted it down.
In the past, bosses and the media have often liked to suggest that union leaders are demanding too much, out of step with their members. Now it’s clear that in many cases, leadership is out of step with members—but by being willing to accept less, not demanding more.
The deal, as described by IATSE, would guarantee workers 10-hour rest periods each day, 54-hour weekend breaks, “improved wages and working conditions for streaming,” retroactive 3% annual raises, and increased penalties to be paid when workers are forced to miss meal breaks.
Many IATSE members are saying it’s not enough. Some locals already had 10-hour rest periods in their contracts, so for those workers it’s not an improvement—and they want 12 hours, enough time to do a little more than drive home, fall into bed for a semi-adequate night of sleep, wake up, and drive right back to work.
“Basically nothing has changed,” a Los Angeles-based director of photography told Variety. “I have not heard a single person saying they will vote yes.”
As labor journalist Alex Press noted, 10 hours of rest time in a 24-hour period was the union’s original ask, so leadership did get what they were asking for on that front. But in the process of gearing up for a strike, many members realized they needed more. The question is how many members are dissatisfied with the 10-hour rest period or other aspects of the proposed deal (whatever it looks like when the union and the studios finish hammering out the legal language), and whether that’s enough to vote it down in what one of Press’ sources describes as “an electoral college style system,” in which each locality gets votes allocated in a winner-takes-all based on the popular vote within the locality.
As for the John Deere workers who did reject the tentative deal their leadership brought to them, they remain on strike. The company brought in salaried, nonunion workers to keep production lines running, which … hasn’t been going so well, with at least one tractor crash on the first day, and rumors flying of alarms going off inside one factory and a salary worker calling union members for advice on how to operate a furnace, Jonah Furman reported.
But the situation for the workers is urgent, with the company announcing it will cut off the strikers’ health coverage on Oct. 27. Workers in some places are seeing substantial community support, including discounts at local businesses across Iowa. But donated food and discounted coffee won’t make up for the loss of health insurance.
Workers also remain on strike at South Buffalo Mercy Hospital, Kellogg cereal, Heaven Hill Distillery, St. Vincent Hospital, Warrior Met Coal, and more. And more than 20,000 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente in California have authorized a strike.
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.