IATSE strike said to be one of biggest in Hollywood history – here’s how previous ones measure up


Top line

The vast majority of a union representing 60,000 behind-the-scenes film and television workers voted on Monday to allow their leaders to call a strike if negotiations with the studios for a new contract fail, citing the possibility of the first strike film and television crews since WWII and one of the biggest labor disputes in the history of the industry – here are the notable strikes past that have affected film and television production and their magnitude in comparison :


November 2007 – February 2008The Writers Guild of America (WGA), representing 12,000 screenwriters, went on strike for 100 days on pay issues regarding internet work and other forms of new media – shutting down many scripted shows and costing the California economy an estimated $ 2.1 billion, according to the Milken Institute.

May – October 2000The 135,000 actors of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have gone on strike only against the advertising industry to protest the way actors are paid for TV commercials, which marked the the longest strike in Hollywood history and cost union members around $ 2 million a day in lost payments, according to CNN.

March – August 1988The 9,000 of the WGA members strike for 150 days for issues, including residual payments and creative control, that CBS reports cost the industry around $ 500 million, caused a lasting decline in television audiences, and possibly contributed to the advent of unscripted television.

March 1985The 9,200 WGA writers went on strike to two weeks on payment issues, including compensation for videotapes, which, despite its short delay, still managed to affect production of great shows like Saturday Night Live and The Cosby Show.

April – July 1981The 8,500 WGA members went on strike for 13 weeks over compensation concerns over original pay-TV and video programming, which the New York Times reports had little impact on film or live TV, but pushed back the fall TV season and forced nearly 50% of behind-the-scenes workers in the industry to take a job while the strike was on .

August 1980 – January 1981The American Federation of Musicians has gone on strike against film and television producers, affecting around 5,000 members, including the Times reports forces producers to rely on older recordings or record music abroad to circumvent the union.

July – October 1980SAG-AFTRA went on strike for three months over various wage issues, which the Washington post reported affected 67,000 limbs and ‘paralyze[ed]”The industry by stopping both television and film production.

december 1978 – february 1979SAG-AFTRA, which each had around 38,000 members at the time, continued to hit for seven weeks against the advertising industry for problems with television and radio advertisements, and the Times reports the strike reduced ad production by 80% during this period.

March – April 1967AFTRA’s 18,000 members continued to hit for 13 days on staff advertisers contracts, which almost delayed the Oscars; the hollywood reporter reports unions representing directors and musicians have also asked their members not to cross the picket line in solidarity.

March – April 1960The more than 6,000 members of the SAG, led by the future president Ronald reagan– went on strike to demand residual payments for films shown on television, which ended the production of films and the New York Times considered at the time as the most serious strike in Hollywood history.

January – June 1960The WGA went on strike to protest the compensation issues, taking around 400 writers working outside their work (out of around 3,000 union members in total), that the Times reported resulted in a “production collapse” in major film studios in addition to affecting television.

december 1952 – february 1953The approximately 2,700 SAG players protested versus the advertising industry and the producers of filmed television commercials, marking the first strike in union history.

March – October 1945The last major union protest from the crew came when around 10,500 members of the Confederation of Studio Unions went on strike over a dispute over the union to which set decorators should belong, to which the hollywood reporter Remarks stopped at least 60% of film production at the start of the strike and resulted in “Bloody friday“Or” Black Friday “, a violent clash in front of the Warner Brothers studio which left 40 injured.

May – July 1941More … than 300 Disney animators quit their jobs for at least five weeks to protest a series of grievances following the studio’s success with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which ultimately had to be settled by federal mediators who ruled in favor of the workers.

Surprising fact

Hollywood directors could have crippled the industry when they went on strike in 1987, but the strike lasted only three hours in New York and a few minutes in Los Angeles before being resolved, the Los Angeles Times reported.

What to watch out for

A strike by the International Alliance of Theatrical Employees could have a bigger impact than past work stoppages, which often only affected certain aspects of the film and television industry or brought out workers without whom producers can still move forward. (The writers’ strike of 2007-2008 did not affect reality TV, for example, and many talk shows still produced shows without their writers.) IATSE has warned lawmakers, a strike “would essentially shut down production” in California and “most” of production in New York City, and the strike would shut down the movies and TV shows of most major networks and production companies, as well as streamers like Netflix, Apple TV +, and Disney +. The hollywood reporter Remarks However, some productions could go ahead under different contracts, including commercials, productions with a budget under $ 15 million and shows on HBO, Showtime, Starz and Cinemax. The animators, who are represented by IATSE through the Animation Guild, are also unlikely to be part of the strike.

What we don’t know

How this strike might be different from others, given how much the industry has changed even since 2008. In addition to the rise of streaming and the backdrop for the Covid-19 pandemic, which has driven many employers to increase their workforce shortage benefits — Yahoo Finance also Remarks social media was not as prevalent in 2008 as it is today, and pressures on social media, such as a wave of support for strikers, could further affect negotiations.

Key context

IATSE represents a wide variety of behind-the-scenes workers in Hollywood, from crew members and techies to more creative roles like designers and cinematographers. (The union also includes workers from other industries like the theater and theme parks, but they are not affected by the strike.) Almost 98% of those who voted were in favor of allowing a strike against the Alliance of Film and Television Producers (AMPTP), as the two sides are at an impasse on issues such as payment and better working conditions. IATSE members say the return to production amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise in content and revenue from streaming services has exacerbated long-standing issues like long working hours and low salaries. “The dangerous hours we work during are no longer sustainable,” IATSE Vice President Michael Miller said at a recent rally. AMPTP said in a statement to Forbes Monday that the organization is “committed to reaching an agreement that will allow the industry to continue to operate.”

Further reading

Hollywood Crew Union vote clears industry’s biggest strike in decades (Forbes)

Tired workers threaten Hollywood’s biggest shutdown since WWII: “People are tired” (Forbes)

The last time was “Hollywood Blood Friday”. With no deal in sight, will the crews strike again? (Los Angeles Times)

The crew strike that shut down Hollywood in 1945 (The Hollywood Journalist)

100 days that changed Hollywood: the writers’ strike, 10 years later (The Hollywood Journalist)


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