How will the National Film Strike Affect New Mexico?
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Next Monday, the word “action” will have a different meaning for those in the film industry. A major industry union said it would call a strike on Monday if production studios do not respond to their demands for improved working conditions. The impact will be felt in the state’s film industry.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Employees, or IATSE, represents shadow workers who build sets, work on sound, and people like Sheila Trujillo. She’s been a makeup artist and unionist for 17 years and says working conditions don’t work.
“At 12:01 am, if an agreement has not been reached, we officially go on strike,” Trujillo said. “It’s got to a point where it’s downright abusive to the limit.”
Trujillo said they often work 16 hours a day, seven days a week and don’t have a break during the work day. IATSE is working to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Film and Television Producers for better working conditions. IASTE has three different groups locally in New Mexico, including IATSE 480.
“It comes down to a few basic issues. These are rest during the day and meal breaks during the day. This is minimum rest during the night. We ask for a minimum break of 10 hours between shifts. We ask for a weekend to be able to spend time with our families. We are asking for decent wages, ”said Liz Pecos, president of the IASTE 480 chapter in New Mexico.
Nationally, with a turnout of 90%, 98.6% of union members approved a strike. In New Mexico, the turnout was 99% and 93% approved a strike. If an agreement is not reached with the big studios on Monday, they will go on strike. Pecos said it would shut down seven of the nine productions currently being filmed in the state and impact approximately 2,000 IATSE union members in New Mexico.
“At the end of the day, we don’t want to hit. We want to make films and television. We want to work, ”said Pecos. “So that’s our hope… is that we can continue to do this now and in the future. We hope that an agreement can be reached by Sunday evening. Otherwise we are mobilized and we are energetic and very united and ready to strike and ready to do whatever it takes to get a fair deal and contract. “
For Trujillo, not knowing how long a strike might last or what other jobs she might be looking for to get out of it can be intimidating, but not as intimidating as the status quo.
“It’s scary, it’s a scary thought. But I think it’s a risk we all have to take. because what we do now is going to affect us for years to come, ”said Trujillo. “I just feel like if we don’t take the opportunity now to fix it, it’s going to get worse.”
The IATSE also calls on streaming services to no longer be considered “new media”. Pecos said such companies like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix are no longer new and are proving to be financially successful. She said that by removing the “new media” label, union members can demand decent wages and benefits, such as affordable health care.
KRQE News 13 has reached out to Netflix for comment but has not received a response. The New Mexico Film Office sent the following statement by email:
“The film and television industry is a key sector of New Mexico’s economy, which is led by thousands of New Mexicans who form the best and hardest working team base in the country. The New Mexico crew are the heart and soul of every production filmed in our state. We stand in solidarity with workers concerned with preserving the safety of each other, improving their working conditions and fighting for the collective good of their colleagues. Supporting our crew is essential to carry this thriving industry into the future. We hope that an agreement between the Alliance of Film and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Employees (IATSE) can be reached quickly and the issues resolved so that this thriving industry will benefit to so many New Mexicans and New Mexico communities can continue to function.