Impact of Potential IATSE Strike on Season 13 Production?

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has authorized a strike starting next Monday, October 18th, if their demands for fair wages, rest and meal breaks, and other issues are not met by then by the representatives of the studios and other production companies. IATSE represents the behind the scenes workers, the technicians and skilled craftspeople whose labor actually makes the shows, movies, and stage productions possible: cinematographers, camera operators, set builders and decorators, stagehands, lighting technicians, sound operators, make up artists, etc. Both Netflix seasons were made under the auspices of the IATSE; the logo, as well of that of the Teamsters, is visible at the end of the credits. This is a nationwide strike, with all locals, including the Philadelphia one, voting in favor.

So, the question is, IF, and I know that’s a big if, the strike happens, will it effect the current production underway? Is union labor being used? SAG-AFTRA, WGA-East, the Teamsters, and the DGA have all expressed their support for the strike.

It’s also possible that IF, and that’s an even bigger if than the last one, the strike happens, it could effect the live tour, since many venues employ IATSE members.

I know this is something no one wants to think about, and maybe people would prefer I not think about something that may not happen, but there is a small chance that there could be a major impact on episode release dates if a strike drags on, especially regarding the LA production scheduled for next month.


Excellent questions my friend! I’m glad you brought this up. It may not be something that would even happen, but it would obviously be reassuring to hear from the production team that they have thought out contingencies should this occur.


Such is one of the perils of moving your cow town puppet show to the big city.


I don’t even know what that means. Can anybody translate it simply for me?


The labor union that represents basically all film and TV crewpeople has announced that it may go on strike next week. That means any TV show currently in production which is using union labor (probably including MST3K) would have to stop filming until the dispute is resolved. So the whole schedule for releasing episodes may be disrupted.


I believe it means that if there’s a strike, and if Alternaversal is a Union Shop, then if a folding chair needs to be moved three inches to the left on the riffing stage, it will just have to sit there until either (a) a scab moves it and runs the risk of angering the IATSE and the other unions supporting the strike — not a good thing for a small production house like Alternaversal, or (b) the strike ends and a member of the IATSE is on-hand to move it.


Still don’t get it.


If there’s a strike, and if there’re members employed by Alternaversal that are members of the IATSE, those employees will not work during the duration of the strike as part of the union’s negotiating tactics. Employees who are members of unions supporting the IATSE might continue to work (but probably won’t), but will be watching for the use of any temporary employees, i.e., “scabs”, brought in to continue the work. This will be reported, and Alternaversal will be black-listed by the IATSE and all the unions that supported it even after the strike has ended.

So if Alternaversal (or any other production) attempts to continue work during the strike, they will be forced to employ non-union workers, greatly limiting the talent pool they can employ. And that situation will continue for the foreseeable future until they can negotiate their way off the black list — which will be expensive, at best.


The union that represents cameramen, prop builders, lighting, sound, etc workers has voted to walk off the job if their contracts aren’t renewed with the changes they are requesting (better pay, longer breaks, that sort of thing).

When strikes like this occur, other unions such as SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild, so the actors), DGA (Director’s Guild of America) WGA (Writers Guild) and the Producers Guild (Don’t remember their acronym right now) tend to strike with them in mutual support.

So if the strike actually happens, that means the production for season 13 could be shut down due to everyone on a picket line. (There really aren’t scabs for this sort of work). The union working to get their members a better contract also represents stage crews for live theaters, places where the Bubble Tour would set up shop in various cities. If that happens, the venue would be shut down and the live tour wouldn’t happen either.

Basically, the timing for filming new episodes would be thrown into a shambles.


Well, in case anyone asks. I’m fine with waiting. After all, I have all of you to keep me entertained while everyone in Philly hammers out their differences.


Oh no… Even if that’s an IF statement, we can’t let that happen!

Most of the time the threat of a strike is enough to get both sides moving toward some sort of resolution. So there’s no need to get too worked up right now. It may not seem like it, but there is still plenty of time for both sides to work out a compromise they are both happy with.


The whole “union strike” playbook is so-well standardized by now that someone better versed in it can probably predict the exact date the new contract is signed within a day or two at this point.

Pity that doesn’t seem to work so well for government shutdowns…

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On the one hand, I support the arts. On the other hand I supported the arts… with my gull darned kickstarter money.


I’m making a note to be sure we touch on this in tomorrow’s backer update, but the gist is: our production team has been aware of this potential outcome for awhile now and has been planning accordingly, as much as one can plan for the unknowable. We ourselves are not 100% sure of the potential impacts to S13 production, so we are planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’m crossing any lines when I saw we at MST3K are in support of IATSE and their extremely reasonable demands. If you want to read a flood of examples of what they are potentially striking for, check out @ia_stories on Instagram. It will probably blow your mind how hard crew actually works, often at the expense of their own health and safety.


I hope my sentiment is shared by everyone here- I want all creatives to be given what they deserve. As the son of an auto manufacture parent, UAW strikes were a part of my life, seeing how it affected those around me. So I understand nobody WANTS to go on strike, but they are sometimes required.

I want all the IATSE members and supporters to be safe, and get their needs met, because they work hard to bring us all the things we love!

If it means a shutdown for MST, I will be sad it happened, but I hope that it is a positive force to make sure that work conditions are improved going forward.


Not that my opinion is worth anything, but I’m fine with waiting, if necessary. I think IATSE should get everything they want/need, and more power to them.



Also, as a “paying customer,” it’s not as if I’m just gonna’ drift off and forget this show forever in favor of some other shiny thing. I’m invested. If I’ve gotta’ wait. I wait, like all grownups have to sometimes.


I am wholly in solidarity with IATSE’s demands, which are absolutely fair and shouldn’t even be an issue. I hope they get what they want.


Yep, I am in full support of IATSE. It’s not unreasonable to expect fair compensation and a reasonable work schedule / environment. More power to them, as they deserve. I hope they can avoid a strike, but if not, this is what I have DVDs and streaming libraries for!