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More than a dozen film projects in Louisiana could be impacted by potential industry strike

1 month 3 weeks 1 day ago Friday, October 08 2021 Oct 8, 2021 October 08, 2021 10:26 PM October 08, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The lights could soon go dark on film sets across the state, with tens of thousands of entertainment industry workers nationwide supporting a potential work stoppage over on-set conditions.

"I would say wages, benefits, turnaround, just quality of life issues," said Cory Parker, a business agent for the local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

As negotiations continue between film industry workers and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers continue, the possibility of a strike remains possible.

"This affects true, Louisiana folks," Parker said. "This is not a Hollywood thing. This is a Louisiana thing, also."

IATSE Local 478 represents workers across Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, and portions of Alabama.

The employees represented range from set and costume designers, to sound, construction, and special effects workers.

Earlier this month, nearly 60,000 IATSE members nationwide overwhelmingly voted to authorize the union to call a strike, if necessary. Parker calls the move historic and monumental.

"This is the first time there's ever been a nationwide authorization to strike vote," Parker said.

Local 478 was in lock-step, with nearly 1,400 eligible members casting ballots.

"Of those 1,400 people, 96.9% of them cast a vote," Parker said. "98.9% of those folks voted yes, in support of authorizing the ability to call a strike."

After the vote, it was back to the negotiating table for AMPTP, as IATSE continues pushing for better working conditions, chief among them, more turnaround between shifts.

Parker says no one, including IATSE members, wants a strike. However, it remains a possibility, one that could send shock waves through every corner of the film industry, including 'Hollywood South.' Any potential strike comes at a time when filming is ramping back up after pandemic-forced pauses.

"We have 16 productions on the ground," Parker said. "We have more coming. We have a really fantastic job coming to Baton Rouge. It's going to employ a lot of people for a long period of time. Disney seems to really take ownership of Baton Rouge, and they love Baton Rouge."

In recent years, the film industry has brought tens of thousands of jobs to the state, leading to hundreds of millions in earnings to residents on top of millions more in revenue for local businesses.

"These people are coming here and they're spending a lot of money, which is allowing us to train a lot of Louisiana residents," Parker said.

All of those dollars and the projects underway and slated to begin are now threatened by a potential work stoppage.

"This tells you there's actually something broken with the industry that needs to be fixed," Parker said.

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