Hollywood labor union votes to authorize a strike with more than 98 percent support

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A Hollywood labor union has just voted almost unanimously in favor of authorizing a major nationwide strike.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents workers in the entertainment industry, announced Monday that its members in film and TV production have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if an agreement can't be reached with producers for a new contract, the Los Angeles Times reports. "Support for strike authorization was more than 98 percent nationwide," the union said, and turnout for the vote exceeded 90 percent.

IATSE has been in talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, for a new contract, and the union is fighting for higher pay and more rest periods among other "quality-of-life" demands.

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"Our people have basic human needs like time for meal breaks, adequate sleep, and a weekend," IATSE President Matthew Loeb said. "For those at the bottom of the pay scale, they deserve nothing less than a living wage."

This was the first time in the labor union's 128-year history that its members have authorized a nationwide strike, which could bring film and television productions to a halt across the country. Monday's vote doesn't indicate that a strike is set to actually begin. But Loeb has been granted the authority to call one, giving the union additional leverage in contract negotiations, the Times explains. Loeb said Monday that the vote should show studios the "resolve of our members," adding, "The ball is in their court. If they want to avoid a strike, they will return to the bargaining table and make us a reasonable offer."

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, meanwhile, said Monday it's hoping to reach an agreement for a new contract to "keep the industry working" but that this will "require both parties working together in good faith," The New York Times reports. Read more about the potential IATSE strike here.

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