Help Us Cover Wildcat Strike Movement Bucking Union Leadership

John Deere workers strike in Davenport, Iowa after voting down a proposed agreement backed by their union leadership (AP)

The dissatisfaction in Hollywood with the proposed IATSE deal reminds me of the mood during the West Virginia teachers’ strike in 2018 when teachers rejected a tentative agreement proposed by their union leaders and went on wildcat strikes anyway.

The determination of those West Virginia rank and file teachers to buck their union leadership would inspire more strikes across the country as Payday documented through on-the-ground reporting in five states during the #RedforEd teachers strikes in 2018.

Now, Payday is seeing something similar in Los Angeles as thousands of IATSE rank and file members have taken to social media to rebuke the proposed deal cut by IATSE leadership with the studios on October 16 and organize against their union leadership as the contract awaits ratification process that could take several months. 

While the deal makes improvements in many areas, it still allows film companies to force film workers to work 14 to 16 hours a day. After the pandemic gave many film workers a break from those days, many simply didn’t want to go back to those hours. Most shockingly, the proposed contract still allows film studios to force IATSE members to work into the early hours of Saturday morning; a practice known as “Fraturdays.” 

“As we understand it, if membership votes no, we can come back to the table with more demands,” wrote the viral rank and file organization @IA_stories in a post to their 160,000 followers on Instagram. “While the deal does claim to address some issues that we wanted changed, considering the massive solidarity and momentum that we have already amassed, there’s no reason that we can’t ask for more.” 

Many members simply aren’t willing to compromise when it comes to overwork. 

“We want 12 hour [breaks], no more Fraturdays, and shoot days that aren’t 16 hour long,” said IATSE member Natalia Tureta. 

(For more, read our complete on-the-ground analysis here. )

Already, one wildcat strike of film workers that was planned before the proposed deal was announced is being organized against Netflix on Wednesday for their treatment of trans employees, many of whom have been active in the union effort. 

And early this month, over 10,000 workers at John Deere chose to buck the UAW’s leadership and strike. We are also seeing retail workers walk out with little or no involvement from unions. 

Stories like this make us think that this could be the beginning of a wildcat strike movement in the U.S. 

Thanks to our readers’ donations, we are booked to be here in Los Angeles for the entire week and plan to talk to more film workers this week about how they feel about their union. 

We know that a growing wildcat strike is happening and we need your help to cover it. 

Payday Report’s Strike Tracker has recorded more than 1,600 strikes since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, and we have been at the forefront of covering strike movements from the pandemic to a new wildcat strike movement emerging. 

Donate Today to Help Us Cover the Growing Wildcat Strike Movement

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About the Author

Mike Elk
A protege of the late Bill Greider, Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered the labor movement & the drug war in Brasil and spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian. In 2016, he used his $70,000 NLRB settlement from being fired in the union drive at Politico to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Email: [email protected]

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