The union representing them, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), says its 60,000 members are prepared to start their strike next week.
A strike would bring a halt to filming on a broad swath of film and television productions and extend well beyond Hollywood, affecting productions in Georgia, New Mexico and other North American shoots.
Matthew Loeb, the organisation’s international president, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the strike would begin at 12:01am on Monday unless an agreement is reached on rest and meal periods and pay for its lowest-paid workers.
Loeb cited a lack of urgency in the pace of negotiations as the reason for setting a strike date.
“Without an end date, we could keep talking forever,” he told the AP in a statement. “Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”
The film and TV industries have recently returned to work after pandemic shutdowns. They have faced recurring aftershocks amid new outbreaks.
Now that production is ramping up again, union leaders say the “catch-up” is resulting in worse working conditions.
“Folks have reported working conditions deteriorating and being aggravated,” Jonas Loeb, IATSE’s director of communication, told the AP last week. “And these 60,000 behind the scenes workers that are under these contracts are really at a breaking point.”
It would be the first nationwide strike in the 128-year history of IATSE, whose members include cinematographers, camera operators, set designers, carpenters, hair and makeup artists, animators, and many others.
Union members say they are forced to work excessive hours and are not given reasonable rest via meal breaks and sufficient time off between shifts. Leaders say the lowest-paid crafts get unlivable wages. Streamers like Netflix, Apple, and Amazon are allowed to pay even less under previous agreements that allowed them more flexibility when they were up-and-comers.
The union reported on 4 October that its members had voted overwhelmingly to allow its president to authorise a strike, but negotiations, and hopes to avert a walkout, resumed after the vote.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios and other entertainment companies in negotiations, said its members value their crew members and were committed to avoiding a shutdown in a still-recovering industry.
The Associated Press contributed to this report