Georgia film and television union threatens strike

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Roughly 17,000 set designers, make-up artists and other behind-the-scenes film and TV production workers who helped make Georgia an East Coast rival to Hollywood might walk off the set if their national union and the producers’ guild don’t negotiate a new contract.

  • After more than 98% of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees members voted over the weekend to give their president, Matthew Loeb, the OK to call a strike, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers agreed to return to the table.

Why it matters: Georgia’s generous tax credit, talent pool and range of shooting locations attracted more than 350 film and TV productions during the previous fiscal year, pumping an estimated $4 billion into the state’s economy.

  • Film productions hire local caterers, empty shelves in hardware stores and rent out local businesses for shoots. A strike — the first industry-wide strike in the union’s 123-year history, Variety reports — could press pause on roughly 50 active productions like “The Walking Dead,” “Ozark” and sequels to “Black Panther” and “Wedding Crashers.”
  • The economic hit would ripple throughout Georgia as the entertainment industry and local governments rebuild after a pandemic lull.

Context: Worker union officials want wage bumps for the lowest-paid union members, longer breaks and streaming giants like Hulu and Netflix to pay crews on par with traditional Hollywood studios.

  • Neither side wants a strike, and even if Loeb calls one, it might not start immediately. But the overwhelming vote, and the unified voice of local chapters like Georgia’s Local 479, are strong leverage.

What they’re saying: Directors Guild of America members including Barry Jenkins, Ava Duvernay and Ron Howard said they supported IATSE, as did actors like Jeffrey Wright and Alyssa Milano, Deadline reports.

What’s next: Labor has the leverage. If the national unions don’t finalize a deal, Local 479 and others would almost assuredly strike in solidarity. See more here.

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