NEW ORLEANS — There is no "lights, camera, action" without the crews that work behind the scenes. Sixty-thousand TV and film industry workers from studio mechanics to audio technicians to stagehands and more are poised to walk off the set come Monday.
“It will be a complete shutdown of the industry across the country,” said Cory Parker, a business agent for the local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) in New Orleans. “It’s that simple. We will be out picketing every production at every location.”
Parker says the union voted almost unanimously to strike nationwide unless TV and filmmakers approve a new contract. At issue are both pay and working conditions.
“Proper turnarounds, proper rest, weekends, proper wages, breaks during a shooting day,” Parker said. “Right now, they are working us 12- and 14-hour days without a lunch break.”
The film industry in Louisiana, known as Hollywood South, is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the state economy and supports about 10,000 jobs.
Chris Stelly is the executive director of Louisiana Entertainment which oversees the state's film industry.
“You always want these negotiations to come out the back end where both parties are happy and people can continue to work and productions can continue to roll cameras,” Stelly said.
Right now, there are 16 major productions underway in the state.
“We don’t know the full impact that (a strike) may have for the state of Louisiana,” Stelly said.
The city of New Orleans and its film office said in a statement, “We hope for a quick resolution of the issues by all parties involved."
IATSE and representatives from the big studios remain at the bargaining table.
“No one wants to strike,” Parker said. “What we want is a fair contract for our membership.:
A deal must be reached by the end of this weekend to avert a strike.