11th-hour deal reached to avert strike of film and television crews

ATLANTA — An 11th-hour deal was reached Saturday, averting a strike of film and television crews that would have seen some 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers walk off their jobs and frozen productions in Hollywood and across the U.S.

Thousands of those workers are in Georgia. The strike would have shut down production not only in Hollywood but on every TV show and movie filming in Georgia right now.

Several major productions, including a biopic of Emmett Till starring Whoopie Goldberg, are currently in production in metro Atlanta.

After days of marathon negotiations, representatives from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and from the studios and entertainment companies who employ them reached the three-year contract agreement before a Monday strike deadline, avoiding a serious setback for an industry that has just gotten back to work after long pandemic shutdowns.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Jarryd Gonzales, spokesman for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios and other entertainment companies in negotiations, confirmed the agreement to The Associated Press.

The union’s members still must vote to approve the tentative agreement.

The effects of the strike would have been immediate, with crews not only on long-term productions but daily series including network talk shows walking off their jobs.

The union represents cinematographers, camera operators, set designers, carpenters, hair and makeup artists and many others.

TRENDING STORIES:

Union members said previous contracts allowed their employers to force them to work excessive hours and deny them reasonable rest via meal breaks and sufficient time off between shifts.

Leaders said the lowest paid crafts were receiving unlivable wages and streaming outlets including Netflix, Apple and Amazon were allowed to work them even harder for less money.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Earlier this week, a metro Atlanta film worker agreed to speak with Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon but requested his name remain anonymous. He says the workers want to get paid more and not be forced to work excessive hours anymore.

“Some of them have dealt with divorce. Some of them have regret on missing key moments in their children’s lives. I’m actually expecting my first kid in February so it’s starting to hit a little closer to home,” he said.

Wilfon also spoke with Kate Fortmueller, who is a UGA assistant professor of entertainment and media studies. She said film crews often work 12- to14-hour days.

“Sometimes the success of a strike relies on kind of the general population supporting the cause for workers and I think the stories about these hours are appalling and grueling,” Fortmueller said.

Details of the new contracts were not immediately revealed.