History Repeats Itself: Other Famous Hollywood Strikes

In 2021 the industry managed to avoid the strike, however, unions are a fundamental part of the operation of the industry. These are other remembered Hollywood strikes.

Hollywood lettering

The latter tend to manifest their wage and labor demands through strikes that temporarily affect the industry, but at the same time keep it oiled despite the passage of time. Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: La historia se repite: otras famosas huelgas de Hollywood

Hollywood is a gold mine for the American economy, in addition to representing the tradition and spirit, it is also a business model that has been operating for decades largely thanks to its structure and the counterweight that its unions represent. The latter tend to manifest their wage and labor demands through strikes that temporarily affect the industry, but at the same time keep it oiled despite the passage of time. In 2021 a new dispute was about to explode, but it was not the first, nor will it be the last.

The strike of 2021

The film and television industry supports more than 2.5 million jobs in the United States , which translates, according to the Motion Picture Association, to $ 188 billion dollars spent just for wages. However, there are also other areas in an industry that represents more than $ 550 billion dollars for the country. Unions play a determining role, agreeing on the rules on which people will work, including wages, work schedules, benefits, etc.

Every year different strikes by different unions can be unleashed, a few days ago the strike of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), a union that includes technical workers in the industry: makeup artists, light technicians, sound engineers, set designers and camera operators, among others. These positions are crucial for the production of content, the urgency of Hollywood to recover the rhythm of work after the pandemic generated pressure on workers who demand better conditions: better hours, breaks, meal times, better wages for those who earn the least, and, in particular, they asked to improve the relationship with streaming.

Finally, the IATSE and the Alliance of Film and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios and producers, reached a last-minute agreement to avoid the strike, which would be the first of this union in its entire history and would have affected hundreds of productions especially in California, Georgia and New York. According to Yahoo! News, the agreement must still be ratified by the union members, in addition to settling any differences that result in the implementation of the agreement, but this already allows the productions of the industry that seek to recover after 2020 and 2021 of uncertainty.

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Why do strikes occur in Hollywood?

The "Mecca" of cinema has been subject to pressure from unions demanding improvements in their wages, working conditions and more. The most recent cases of strikes were in 2007, which lasted 100 days. In it, 12,000 scriptwriters stopped their work demanding that their payment be doubled for the sale of DVDs, since they were limited to an agreement in different formats that for them did not correspond to the reality of the moment.

After 100 days, the strike was lifted, but the effects on the economy of the city of Los Angeles, the production companies, studios and businesses that revolve around the industry had millionaire losses. The unions generally negotiate every 3 years the changes they consider necessary in their contracts, so tensions are often generated when it is necessary to renegotiate. And although 2007 was a severe blow to the industry, it was not the worst strike. In the 80s there was a dispute that lasted more than 150 days, which shows the power that unions have even against companies like Disney. In 2017 the strike was avoided through negotiation, with the specter of the 2007 strike, both parties had a better disposition. Among the benefits obtained, salary increases and maximum work schedule in series production stood out, which when exceeded would generate additional payments.

The effects of strikes on productions

If you review the chapters and seasons of some of your favorite series, you will probably notice that some seasons are irregular, that is, they are shorter or longer than normal. This may be due to one of these strikes that directly affect the rate of production.

Among the series affected are some notable ones such as Lost, Two and a Half Men, The Office, Prison Break, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and even Breaking Bad. Some had episodes shortened, others had to split seasons or "save" some episodes for the next. In addition to the direct effects on the content, there are also those related to production costs. Having a series or film stopped generates costs per day and several businesses that suffer the effect, from large production companies, streaming, cable channels, to small restaurants that receive production workers daily.