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Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, one of Hollywood's largest labor unions, have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike that would shut down the majority of film and TV production from coast to coast.

Ninety percent of about 60,000 eligible members cast ballots between Oct. 1 and 3, and the vote passed with more than 98 percent support. (In all, IATSE represents more than 150,000 "below-the-line" crew members in the entertainment industry, including editors, art directors, electricians, hairstylists, and more.)

IATSE International president Matthew Loeb now has the authority to call a nationwide work stoppage, which would be the first in the union's 128-year history.

"The members have spoken loud and clear," Loeb said in a statement Monday. "This vote is about the quality of life as well as the health and safety of those who work in the film and television industry. Our people have basic human needs like time for meal breaks, adequate sleep, and a weekend. For those at the bottom of the pay scale, they deserve nothing less than a living wage."

IATSE's members are pushing to improve working conditions that have persisted in the entertainment industry for decades, particularly the grueling hours required on film and TV shoots. On Instagram, many have shared stories of exhaustion and near-death experiences using the page IATSE Stories, which has amassed more than 1,000 posts since August.

IATSE leadership is now expected to seek further negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood's major production companies and studios.

"I hope that the studios will see and understand the resolve of our members," Loeb said in his statement Monday. "The ball is in their court. If they want to avoid a strike, they will return to the bargaining table and make us a reasonable offer."

IATSE Strike
Window art in support of IATSE in Los Angeles
| Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

An AMPTP spokesperson said in a statement provided to EW, "The AMPTP remains committed to reaching an agreement that will keep the industry working. We deeply value our IATSE crew members and are committed to working with them to avoid shutting down the industry at such a pivotal time, particularly since the industry is still recovering from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic."

The statement added, "A deal can be made at the bargaining table, but it will require both parties working together in good faith with a willingness to compromise and to explore new solutions to resolve the open issues."

If a strike is called, it's unclear how long it would last and what exactly the fallout would look like. The 2008 writers' strike lasted for 100 days and affected dozens of television shows.

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