Van Hollen, Schiff, Padilla, and Colleagues Call for Improved Wages and Working Conditions for Behind-the-Scenes Entertainment Workers
Today, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers urging the association to negotiate collaboratively and in good faith with Hollywood craft workers advocating for improved wages and working conditions on movie and television sets.
Behind-the-scenes workers such as camera operators, cinematographers, editors, and art directors – the engines of the entertainment industry and creative arts – have played an essential role in keeping film and television productions running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, often at risk to their own health, safety, and well-being. For months, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents 60,000 individuals, has been negotiating a new contract with the producers.
“The key issues in this negotiation, as we’ve come to understand them, are about worker dignity and basic human necessities. We are unified in our belief in the importance of living wages, sustainable benefits, and reasonable rest periods between shifts and during the workday,” the members wrote in the letter. “We ask that the AMPTP negotiate collaboratively with these workers to reach a fair contract and address the basic human needs that will allow them to do their jobs safely and with dignity.”
The letter was led by Rep. Schiff and Sen. Padilla. In addition to Senator Van Hollen, the letter was also signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), and Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The letter is also signed by Democratic Reps. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), Cynthia Axne (Iowa), Nanette Diaz Barragan (Calif.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Brendan Boyle (Pa.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), André Carson (Ind.), Troy Carter (La.), Judy Chu (Calif.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), J. Luis Correa (Calif.), Angie Craig (Minn.), Charlie Crist (Fla.), Danny K. Davis (Ill.), Madeleine Dean (Pa.), Val Demings (Fla.), Theodore Deutch (Fla.), Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Anna G. Eshoo (Calif.), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Jesús García (Ill.), Jimmy Gomez (Calif.), Jahana Hayes (Conn.), Steven Horsford (Nev.), Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr. (Ga.), Mondaire Jones (N.Y.), Robin L. Kelly (Ill.), Daniel Kildee (Mich.), Andy Kim (N.J.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.), Ann Kuster (N.H.), Conor Lamb (Pa.), John B. Larson (Conn.), Brenda L. Lawrence (Mich.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Susie Lee (Nev.), Teresa Leger Fernandez (N.M.), Andy Levin (Mich.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Stephen F. Lynch (Mass.), Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Tom Malinowski (N.J.), Betty McCollum (Minn.), James P. McGovern (Mass.), Grace Meng (N.Y.), Kweisi Mfume (Md.), Joseph D. Morelle (N.Y.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (Calif.), Joe Neguse (Colo.), Marie Newman (Ill.), Donald Norcross (N.J.), Eleanor Norton (D.C.), Scott H. Peters (Calif.), Charlie Pingree (Maine), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), Kathleen M. Rice (N.Y.), Deborah K. Ross (N.C.), Bobby L. Rush (Ill.), Linda Sánchez (Calif.), Mary Gay Scanlon (Pa.), Janice Schakowsky (Ill.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Bradley Scott Schneider (Ill.), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.), Darren Soto (Fla.), Melanie Stansbury (N.M.), Haley M. Stevens (Mich.), Thomas Suozzi (N.Y.), Dina Titus (Nev.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Norma Torres (Calif.), David J. Trone (Md.), Juan Vargas (Calif.), Peter Welch (Vt.), Susan Wild (Pa.), and Frederica S. Wilson (Fla.).
Click here to read the letter or read the full text below:
Dear Ms. Lombardini:
As the elected representatives of constituents who make a living working behind-the-scenes in motion picture and television production, we urge you to negotiate fair successor contracts with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). We support the principles of adequate sleep, meal breaks and living wages for all workers.
These workers have risked their health and safety for the last year, working through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the motion picture and television production industry emerged intact. Production has now returned to pre-pandemic levels, due in no small part to the essential role these workers play in the creative process. The entertainment you jointly produce is helping to heal our nation.
The current contract under negotiation covers approximately 60,000 motion picture and television production workers across the country. Failure to reach an agreement would threaten not only the livelihoods of these workers, but also their family members who rely upon work in your industry, sending shockwaves throughout the U.S. economy and the industry.
The key issues in this negotiation, as we’ve come to understand them, are about worker dignity and basic human necessities. We are united in our belief in the importance of livable wages, sustainable benefits, and reasonable rest periods between shifts and during the workday.
Reportedly, IATSE members are mobilizing in preparation for a nationwide strike authorization vote on October 1, 2021, because of the announcement that AMPTP does not intend to make a counteroffer. A strike would dramatically disrupt the industry, the economy, and the communities we represent. We are hopeful that both sides can negotiate in good faith and reach a consensus agreement, which necessitates both parties continuing to participate in ongoing negotiations.
We ask that the AMPTP negotiate collaboratively with these workers to reach a fair contract and address the basic human needs that will allow them to do their jobs safely and with dignity.
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