Title: Hollywood Crew Members Struggle as Production Strikes Cause Financial Hardship
Date: September 21, 2022
BURBANK, California – The aftermath of twin strikes in Hollywood has left crew members facing significant financial hardships as they remain out of work for months. The strikes, which began with writers walking off the job in May followed by actors in July, have resulted in the loss of close to $2 billion in wages for members of IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) alone. The impact has been felt across the industry, leading to a surge in unemployment and debt among production workers.
Crew members, who are not part of the strike but have been affected by the shutdown of most scripted productions, gathered at a parking lot flea market to sell various items in an effort to make ends meet. Among them were a set decorator and prop master, both utilizing their creative skills to create baked goods and handmade quilts, respectively, for sale. Their signs, displayed prominently at their stalls, detailed their struggle to pay bills and maintain financial stability.
According to IATSE, its members have already withdrawn $44 million from their retirement plans to cover current expenses, reflecting the pressure they are facing. The motion picture and sound recording industries have witnessed a loss of 17,000 jobs in August alone due to the strikes, as reported by U.S. government statistics.
The strikes have had a significant impact on California and other production-heavy states, with estimated lost output reaching around $5 billion. This has prompted concern among affected workers who argue that state unemployment benefits and union assistance do not sufficiently cover their basic costs of living.
Many industry workers have been forced to seek alternative employment opportunities outside the entertainment sector. However, the high number of individuals affected by the strikes has limited job availability, resulting in heightened competition for positions such as cashiers, waiters, and babysitters.
The scenario has pushed several workers to sell personal belongings, including furniture, vintage clothing, and props, in order to generate additional income. Additionally, worker-led initiatives such as a flea market organized by prop maker Greg S. Gilday have provided a platform for those impacted by the strikes to sell memorabilia and other items.
While Hollywood studios have resumed negotiations with the Writers Guild of America this week, no talks have yet been scheduled with the SAG-AFTRA actors union, leaving uncertainty about when the work stoppages might be resolved.
Acknowledging the dire situation faced by industry workers, well-known Hollywood figures like George Clooney, Dwayne Johnson, and Meryl Streep have donated millions to charities assisting affected workers. IATSE has also contributed $4 million to aid organizations, but those funds have been fully exhausted. Consequently, the union has established a GoFundMe page and operates a food pantry to support its members.
In a bid to assist crew members who have lost health insurance, a group of prominent Hollywood names organized an auction that showcased exclusive items such as a watercolor painting by actor John Lithgow and a virtual session with Nicole Kidman.
California Governor Gavin Newsom is currently considering allowing striking workers to apply for unemployment benefits, pending the approval of a bill passed by the state legislature. However, the measure would only take effect in January.
As crew members continue to navigate these challenging times, their hope for a resolution to the strikes remains uncertain. In the meantime, solidarity and support from within the industry and broader community play a vital role in providing relief to those suffering the financial repercussions of the ongoing labor disputes.
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