Strike averted as TV and film crews, producers reach agreement

Netflix's "Cobra Kai" would have shut down Oct. 18 if a strike had happened but the two sides came to an agreement Oct. 16 to avert that outcome. Cr. CURTIS BONDS BAKER/NETFLIX © 2020

Credit: CURTIS BONDS BAKER/NETFLIX

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Netflix's "Cobra Kai" would have shut down Oct. 18 if a strike had happened but the two sides came to an agreement Oct. 16 to avert that outcome. Cr. CURTIS BONDS BAKER/NETFLIX © 2020

Credit: CURTIS BONDS BAKER/NETFLIX

Strike deadline was midnight Monday, Oct. 18; thousands of jobs in Georgia affected

Hollywood producers Saturday reached a tentative agreement with the union representing most TV and film crews with just over a day before a strike would have stopped nearly all production in Georgia and the rest of the nation.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents crew members ranging from technicians to makeup artists, came to an agreement with the group that represents producers such as Netflix, Viacom, Paramount and Disney. IATSE has 6,000 members in Georgia and 60,000 overall.

Thousands of workers would have been instantly out of work in Georgia on Monday if the two sides had reached an impasse.

Union members earlier this month overwhelmingly passed a strike authorization, providing leverage for IATSE leadership to get producers back at the table. Members will have to vote to ratify this particular agreement. While there is anonymous griping on social media about aspects of the deal, it’s unclear if there is enough opposition to scuttle it.

The agreement would improve wages across the board, provide workers on streaming service shows more equitable pay, create longer rest periods and impose bigger penalties if a production chooses to skip meals to save time. Crew members had complained that producers were forcing them to work longer hours and skip more meals with shorter rest breaks as companies such as Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max felt increasing pressure to pump out more content quicker.

The pandemic only exacerbated the situation since it shut production down for several months in 2020, causing a back-up in production that has filled up the 100-plus stages available in Georgia. Production, still under pricey COVID restrictions, is currently at its historic peak in Georgia, with about 55 projects such as Netflix’s “Cobra Kai,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and Fox’s “The Resident” as well as the film “Creed III” starring Michael B. Jordan currently shooting in the state.

Generous tax credits passed in 2008 for film and TV companies brought a cavalcade of production into the state over the years, turning Georgia into the third-largest producer of films, TV shows and reality TV in the nation behind only California and New York.

Technically, there are two agreements. The one that was negotiated this past week only represents the California union. The one that represents the union members in Georgia and other parts of the country will be negotiated this week, but it is considered a formality since it will largely match the West Coast agreement.