It’s Day 15 of the writers’ strike, and while showrunners and actors are getting served with letters stating that they are on forced hiatus (with or without pay), it’s actually the so-called below-the-liners (makeup artists, prop people, costume designers, and other crew members) who have been brought to their knees. The Screen Actors Guild contract provides actors some protection during a strike, but production folks, who are members of the International Alliance of Stage Employees union, just get fired. Period. Not only do they lose their paychecks, but also the hours worked that would go towards qualifying for health and pension benefits.
Given that hardship, one might think the 50,000 IATSE members specifically employed by the TV and film industry would be peeved at the writers for going on strike. But many of them bear no ill-will. In Los Angeles, at least, more than 250 of them rallied with WGA members on Monday. Andrew Goldberg, the former assistant to Family Guy showrunner Seth MacFarlane who organized the event, said: “This was a chance for us to show the writers we support them, and to show the media conglomerates that they need to take responsibility for their own decisions and not blame the writers for their lay-offs.” Of the gesture, House creator and executive producer David Shore added: “This was thrust upon them, they’re paying a price. And they could easily resent this strike, yet they continue to support us. They deserve and have my deepest gratitude and respect.”
For below-the-liners, a lot is riding on Nov. 26, but they would be advised to manage their expectations: In 1988, it was Day 150 before the AMPTP and WGA came to an agreement.