Entertainment employees may join thousands of Americans on strike as workers see chance to ‘flex their muscles’

Author: CBS NEWS

Amy Thurlow said she sometimes works 80 hours a week as a writers’ assistant in Hollywood — a job that makes just over state minimum wage.

She’s a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union with around 60,000 of some of the most essential workers in entertainment, like camera operators and set designers, who could all strike on Monday.

“We’re talking about people who love their work,” Matthew Loeb, IATSE president, told CBS News’ Jonathan Vigliotti.

Loeb told CBS News his members are asking for better pay and quality of life like a guarantee of 10 hours between shifts.

“A person might go to work in the morning and not get a meal for nine or 10 hours or a break during the day,” Loeb said.

IATSE is not the only union taking action. More than 10,000 United Autoworkers at John Deere plants are striking for the first time in 35 years.

They are walking away from a contract that would have provided up to a 6% raise, which workers said was not enough as company earnings are expected to hit record highs.

“We’re doing what we need to do. Standing up for ourselves,” Deere employee, Kari Bormann said.

Around 1,400 Kellogg’s employees have been on strike for nearly two weeks and 24,000 Kaiser Permanente Healthcare workers have authorized a strike.

With more than 10 million open jobs across the U.S. and much of the country rebounding from the worst of COVID-19, a more assertive labor force shouldn’t come as a surprise, says Robert Reich, who served as labor secretary under former President Bill Clinton.

“At the end of that crisis, workers begin to say, ‘Wait a minute, maybe I ought to be doing better.’ You have this huge surge in pent-up demand. At the same time, you’ve got a shortage of workers. A lot of workers know that this is the time, if there’s ever a time, to flex their muscles,” Reich said.

All of the companies involved in these labor disputes say they are committed to reaching fair contracts for all parties.

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