Hollywood is currently in the midst of heated labor negotiations between the studios and crew union; Pamela Adlon, star and co-creator of the FX show Better Things, posted a video to her Instagram account Friday to demonstrate her set's solidarity with on-set labor union IATSE in the midst of contract negotiations primarily over safe working hours on sets.
The IATSE is one of the largest unions in Hollywood with 43,000 members across all departments on set with different locals ranging from grips and camera crew to wardrobe, hair and makeup, even cleaning, craft services, and catering. The IATSE contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) was scheduled to be up for re-negotiation July 31, but was extended through midnight September 10 to allow extra time to negotiate COVID-19 protocols.
As the midnight deadline has come and gone, the bargaining committee still has not reached an agreement, though the union released a statement Saturday that talks are continuing. The largest issue on the table is safe working hours and compassionate working conditions; crews are taking issue with the money producers are spending on new COVID protocols while telling crew for years that they don't have the money to provide working crews with proper meal breaks, hotel rooms on location shoot days to prevent long commutes and falling asleep at the wheel, and humane work hours that include weekends off. The normal practice is the "Fraturday", or shooting so late on Friday set doesn't wrap until early Saturday morning, killing whatever plans (be it children's soccer games, weekend trips, or just maintaining a normal sleep schedule) crew had for their Saturday.
The working conditions of those "below the line" (i.e. not the creators, directors, producers, and actors who are so often credited with a project's success) getting paid hourly wages, often minimum wage or just above, are woefully dismal and need to change, be it through strike or proper negotiations. Stars like Adlon standing in solidarity with IATSE is important, but what's even better is her running a safe and ethical set, noting that the crew had a 7am call time and wrapped after a full shoot day before sunset. That's a day that's less than 12 working hours, on a Friday, and they had a lunch break without going into meal penalties.
Adlon tagged the account @IA_Stories, which is dedicated to anonymously sharing true on-set experiences of unsafe, illegal, and inhumane working conditions on Hollywood sets. It shines a light on the reality of the majority who work tirelessly to create the films and television shows we glibly consume and complain about. "Oh, there's just 10 episodes? Ugh" Those 10 episodes took 14 months to complete and are the reason why crew members missed spending time with their loved ones and families, couldn't cultivate hobbies, and suffered from exhaustion, burnout, and often times abuse. More sets should be like Better Things and make an effort to be conscientious of crews' health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally.