Friday, April 29, 2011

IATSE: A brief biography

On July 17, 1893, the National Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes was created by seventeen courageous legitimate theater stagehands. In 1914, our jurisdiction was expanded to include Moving Picture Machine Operators (aka projectionists).  We achieved our first industrywide motion picture contract with the Major Motion Picture Studios on November 26, 1926; however this began a two decade (often violent) jurisdictional struggle with several other labor organizations.
In 1947 the IATSE won an election covering all craft and technical workers at Paramount's television station in Los Angeles, at KTLA. 
In 1948 in an historic Supreme Court decision, the movie studios were compelled to divest themselves of the  theaters they had previously owned.  (The Paramount decree.)  This resulted in the IATSE losing a bit of its leverage, as we were no longer able to put pressure on those studios at the ultimate consumer level.  In 1952 after a brief strike against four of the ten major television studios, IA workers who were employed in television production achieved a big breakthrough; the new contract provided wages and benefits equal to those enjoyed by IA members working on theatrical movie productions.  In 1955, several films were released in 3D; but the technology wasn't well received and didn't last for long.
November 2010; the IATSE announces a drive to represent visual effects workers.  In the coming weeks and months we'll set out our case for what we can do, how we will do it, and what it will mean for working professionals.  Next time you are on a studio lot, or on a set, ask your counterparts if they are a member: and what that membership means to them.  Until next time,   Jimmy

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