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WrapPRO Roundtable: Inside the Fight for a Living Wage in Hollywood | Video
Members of IATSE Local 871 speak with TheWrap about the push for better wages for Hollywood’s lowest-paid workers
As talks between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Hollywood’s studios are set to resume in the coming weeks, the struggle continues for the guild’s lowest-paid members — many of them women — to get a living wage secured in the next bargaining agreement.
Marisa Shipley, vice president of IATSE Local 871, sat down for the latest WrapPRO Roundtable to discuss the ongoing #IALivingWage campaign, which seeks to drastically increase pay for writers assistants, script coordinators, assistant production coordinators and art department coordinators. Joining Shipley for the discussion are two leading members of the movement: writer assistant Amy Thurlow and script coordinator Colby Bachiller.
For these positions, minimum hourly wages in the existing IATSE bargaining agreement are set at $16 per hour, which is below the living wage for Los Angeles residents and is less than half of the minimum pay for staff writers, assistant art directors and second assistant directors.
Shipley discussed how the Local is pushing for the studios to drastically increase wages for these positions based on the California Fair Pay Act, which requires businesses to pay equal wages for “substantially similar work,” a phrase that cuts out many loopholes that have allowed pay disparity to persist.
“When you change the standard to ‘substantially similar work,’ you take out arguments used to justify pay differences like that they work in slightly different offices,” Shipley explained. “When you base pay comparisons on ‘substantially similar work’, you’re looking at the work as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility.”
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Bachiller also discussed how pay disparity harms Hollywood’s efforts at diversity and inclusion, noting that without better pay, it becomes more difficult for those without pre-existing financial means to get a foothold in the entertainment industry.
“Even though Hollywood has been talking about how they want more diversity, they want more inclusivity, they want these stories, they failed to provide the one thing that can support the people that can provide these stories: a living wage,” Bachiller said. “As it is now, the only people who can enter this industry are people of privilege or people willing to take on a lot of debt.”
Check out the full conversation on #IALivingWage in the clip above. For more on the challenges facing IATSE 871’s members, check out WrapPRO’s report here.