Georgia is Preparing for a Strike by Television and Film Workers

Last updated October 10, 2021 @ 7:55 PM ET

Workers in Georgia’s multibillion-dollar film and television sector are threatening to strike, putting the state’s multibillion-dollar film and television business at risk.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) were still negotiating a contract on Thursday, days after the union approved a strike over working conditions.

In fiscal year 2021, Georgia’s film and television industry spent $4 billion on projects. This does not take into consideration the personal expenditure of the industry’s thousands of employees.

According to Steve Weizenecker, an entertainment lawyer at Barnes & Thornburg, the state’s film tax credit program had its finest year since its inception. Weizenecker, who is also vice chair of Gov. Brian Kemp’s Advisory Commission on Film, Music, and Digital Entertainment, said he hopes the producers and staff can reach an agreement quickly, but that if a strike occurs, the state will be able to recover.

“It’s never good for the state for any industry to shut down,” Weizenecker said.

During fiscal year 2021, which ran from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, 366 projects were filmed in Georgia, according to the Georgia Film Office. Following the temporary closures of COVID-19, film and television firms pledged to rehire and employ 40,000 production employees, as well as spend $2 billion in the Georgia economy over the next 18 months. For the time being, that pledge may be put on ice.

After the AMPTP failed to address workers’ demands for improved pay, working hours and conditions, and lunch breaks, nearly all of the union’s 60,000 members voted to approve the strike on Monday.

Officials claimed a closure of the state’s film and television sector would hurt the restaurant and hotel industries, which were affected hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak. In Georgia, it employs hundreds of thousands of people.

Georgia’s television and film industries were forced to close in March 2020 due to the outbreak of the pandemic, although they reopened in the fourth quarter of the year. Because of the large number of projects created during the COVID-19 closure period, the state was able to recuperate all of its losses and acquire additional money. Georgia was the first state to develop a COVID-19 film and television safety policy guide, which authorities claim spurred the industry’s quick comeback.