After Strike Wins, WGA and SAG Unions Hope IATSE Deal Will Spur Production: ‘There’s a Lot Being Held Up’

One year ago, as the WGA strike was just getting underway and the SAG strike was still looming, Beau Willimon and Greg Iwinski took part in a panel at the ATX TV Festival to rally support and better explain what their unions were fighting to secure. Sunday, with both strikes in the rearview mirror following major victories for both parties, the two WGA East members returned to the festival with SAG member and national board representative Dulé Hill to discuss what they won and what work still needs to be done.

“Strikes aren’t necessarily for the membership now,” Hill said. “Strikes are for the members who are coming. […] I cannot let there be rollbacks so I receive more than the next generations receive. I cannot let that happen.”

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Part of that responsibility extends beyond the specific unions to the broader labor movement, especially when it comes to IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, who stood in solidarity with both WGA and SAG during their strikes and are currently negotiating a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on behalf of their union.

“You could pay all of these contracts with a CEO’s salary for one year, so they have the money,” Iwinski said, echoing comments he made during the WGA strike when he was on the union’s negotiating committee. “These people are driven by fear. They don’t have an artistic drive or a vision for what a movie should be. They’re driven by fear, and they’re very afraid that IATSE will strike.”

Production in Hollywood has not yet returned to pre-strike levels. The peak TV bubble appears to have burst, theatrical films are struggling at the box office, and the industry is struggling to deliver consistent value to shareholders, all of which are resulting in less TV series and movies being greenlit right now. Although Willimon was quick to point out these and a variety of other factors contributing to the slow down, Iwinski and Hill both expressed belief that work could ramp back up once a deal with IATSE is made.

“I’m not a CEO, but greenlighting a show now feels risky. But greenlighting a show August 2, when there’s an IATSE deal, that seems better,” Iwinski said. “Even if I have to rush to get it done for the fall premiere, I already know there’s a deal. So I think there’s a lot being held up by it. You can’t make shows or movies without IATSE, so if there’s any chance there’s going to be a disruption, you have to wait.”

Later, Iwinski emphasized his statements on X to “make the subtext louder”: The way to end this holdup is for the companies to give IATSE a fair and just contract. They could do it TODAY. Nothing moves without the crew. Give them a deal that reflects that.”

“My hope is that once the IATSE deal is done, we’ll start to see more development coming,” Hill said. “We started to feel the slow-down in the spring of last year. It was like everyone knew the strike was [about to be] happening. […] Even after the SAG strike and the writer’s strike were done, the union felt like we’d be back at work now, things will start ramping back up. But myself and the other actors, we don’t feel that yet. People are being cautious about putting their foot on the gas. I have a feeling that has a lot to do with the IATSE strike, with their negotiations. Hopefully by the time we get to the fall and get into the spring next year, we’ll see it all start to rest into what the new normal is going to be.”

“It’s very easy to be scared and think, ‘It’s all dried up, nothing will happen, nothing will ever happen,'” Iwinski said. “But there have to be television shows in spring of 2026. There have to be television shows, there have to be movies, they have to exist, or every one of these companies we negotiated with has decided to just stop existing. […] You are a hamburger factory, you have to make hamburgers.”

Hill said they had already “seen the domino effects over the last year” of the deals ratified in September (WGA) and November 2023 (SAG). He and Iwinski touted alterations to the residual payment structure, exclusivity agreements, and basic wage increases as major wins for the unions that are already helping members’ quality of life.

“[We also won] AI protections — not because AI is going to be better than us, but because executives are going to be dumb enough think it might be,” Iwinski said.

When asked about what union members still need to be fighting for, Iwinski noted that companies still need to be reminded that movies and shows featuring people of color are vital investments. “It makes you more money to make a racially diverse show, and they still don’t do it,” he said. He also encouraged young writers to hold companies accountable to the terms they’ve agreed upon.

“Read your contract, know your contract, and get your union to enforce your contract,” he said, noting that if members feel intimidated to call out a network or company themselves, they can call their union to work for them. “Let the union be the bad guy,” Iwinski said.

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