|Members 130,000 (2016)|
Country United States Canada
Founded 17 July 1893
Parent organization AFL–CIO
|Full name International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada|
Key people Matthew D. Loeb International President James B. Wood General Secretary, Treasurer
Office location New York City, New York, United States
Awards Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE (full name: International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada), is a labor union representing over 130,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theatre, motion picture and television production, and trade shows. It was awarded Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre in 1993.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada was founded in 1893 when representatives of stagehands working in eleven cities met in New York and pledged to support each other's efforts to establish fair wages and working conditions for their members. The IATSE has evolved since then to embrace the development of new entertainment mediums, craft expansion, technological innovation and geographic growth.
Today, IATSE members work in all forms of live theater, motion picture and television production, trade shows and exhibitions, television broadcasting, and concerts as well as the equipment and construction shops that support all these areas of the entertainment industry. The IA represents virtually all the behind the scenes workers in crafts ranging from motion picture animator to theater usher.
During a period when private sector union membership has been in sharp decline the IATSE has continued to grow. Since 1993 the IA's membership has increased from 74,344 to 130,000 which it attributes to its willingness to adapt its structure to protect traditional jurisdiction and accommodate new crafts.
In 1886, Union members went on strike in New York City under the Theatrical Protective Union of New York. After producers filled the positions of strikers with less skilled strikebreakers, actors refused to work due to sets falling apart. With the support of the actors behind the strikers, they succeeded in most of their requests.
In 1893, representatives of stagehands from eleven cities met in New York to discuss working conditions for their peers. They vowed to support each other in the effort to create an industry that would allow for fair wages and better working conditions. On June 17, 1893, the representatives officially formed the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. In 1895, "home rule" was established. The Alliance defined home rule as “22 New York theatres for New York local members, Chicago theatres for Chicago (and so forth)... and no other members of locals allowed to work within the jurisdiction of other locals without (their) consent."
The Los Angeles Theatrical workers union (which had independently formed in 1891) joined the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union in 1896. By 1898, the IATSE had welcomed two Canadian locals into the alliance: Montreal Local 56 and Toronto Local 58. In 1902, the Alliance adopted "International" into its title.
In 1912, the union began a system that allowed individuals traveling with attractions to send basic information such as the size and length of time the local crews would be needed ahead to the next destination. This assured that there would be enough people to staff each theatre, and helped ensure these were union crews. The system is still in process today, and is referred to as the "yellow card system."
The IA was quickly becoming the preeminent theatrical union in North America after the Canadian Department of Labour listed theatrical locals in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Calgary, Saskatchewan and Vancouver in 1928.
In June 1933, President Roosevelt signed legislation into law affecting all US workers – the National Recovery Act, creating the National Recovery Administration (NRA). The NRA’s first mission was to create a uniform system of codes to cover all of industry in the United States. For months, the Alliance participated in hearings to create an industrial code for the entertainment industry. Eventually, four different codes were established: Code of Fair Competition for the Motion Picture Industry; Code of Fair Competition for the Legitimate Full Length Dramatic and Musical Theatrical Industry; Code of Fair Competition for the Burlesque Theatrical Industry; and the Code of Fair Competition for the Motion Picture Laboratory Industry. The NRA shortened working hours to spread the work around, and set the first minimum wage level for stagehands. In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, including a provision that required studios to rearrange production schedules to fit the agreed-upon 44-hour work week (to be reduced to 40 over the following three years).
In 1940 the Canadian Picture Pioneers organization was formed, "dedicated to the support and well-being of all members of the motion picture industry in Canada."
On November 6, 1996, the AICP (Association of Independent Commercial Producers, Inc.) and the IATSE signed the first-ever Agreement between the two organizations. The Agreement established the wages and working conditions applicable to motion picture and television production technicians and artisans employed in the production of television commercials, and was intended to recognize and address the special needs of the television commercial production process.
In 1998, the five departments were established: Stagecraft, Motion Picture and Television Production, Organizing, Trade Show and Display Work, and Canadian Affairs. In 2011 the Communications Department was established, and in 2012, the Organizing Department was folded into the Stagecraft Department, and two new departments were established: Education and Training, and Broadcast.
In 1999, the IATSE established the IATSE Political Action Committee, a federal political action committee designed to support candidates for federal office who promote the interests of the members of the IATSE and its locals and to support a federal legislative and administrative agenda to benefit those members.
The Labor Education Assistance Program was launched in 2009, which would pay tuition for labor studies courses taken by its local union Officers. Following LEAP, the IA established the Training Trust to provide training opportunities in the areas of safety and skills development for IATSE members.
During the early 20th century, organized crime gained influence over parts of IATSE in collusion with employers. In June 1934 the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees held an election with only one person running. The election was rigged by the soon-to-be elected President Browne. The other two opponents in the running suddenly dropped from the race after death threats were received. Willie Bioff, another Chicago gangster, was instantly elected Browne’s “personal representative”.
Later that year Bioff went to Hollywood on behalf of IATSE. He used violent threats to discuss a private and limited contract with studios. These contracts included weak contracts and high dues. The studios liked the protection against the union. In 1941, Bioff and other mobsters were charged with corruption leading to union members attempting to remove them from power in IATSE. However, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees remained corrupt and reverted to fraudulent negotiating practices. Some sources suggest that, in the later years, IATSE was “more interested in breaking strikes than winning them”.
The membership process of the IATSE varies widely depending on each local. In order to become a member, interested applicants must contact the appropriate local union in their jurisdiction that covers their particular craft. Once accepted, members work under union contracts that guarantee certain wages, hours, benefits, safety guidelines, and other agreements, and gain opportunities to upgrade skills and master new technologies relating to their craft. Additionally, IATSE members enjoy benefits from Union Plus, a program created by the AFL-CIO to provide savings and discounts to union members.
Organization and structure
Within the U.S. and Canada, there are more than 375 IATSE local unions among 13 geographical districts, whose members make up the rank and file of the IATSE. The IATSE local unions are organized to represent workers by geographic and craft jurisdiction. Each craft falls under one of four departments: Stagecraft, Motion Picture and TV, Broadcast, and Tradeshow. The Canadian Department and Communications Department are two additional departments within the IA.
The IATSE International Union supports all individual local unions and members in numerous ways, including by:
The International’s General Executive Board is led by the International President. It consists of the General Secretary-Treasurer, and 13 International Vice-Presidents. Of the Vice Presidents, two are designated to come from Canadian locals; one is designated to come from the West Coast Studio production locals; another, the Special Department locals; and the remainder are undesignated. Three International Trustees review the financial activities of the IATSE through semi-annual audits of the International’s books and records. Also on the Board is the Canadian Labour Congress Delegate, who serves as a liaison between the IA the CLC, Canada's umbrella organization for dozens of Canadian and international unions.
The Canadian Department oversees all IATSE Canadian affairs and supports the 16,000 Canadian members in 40 Locals through negotiations, training, and organizing.
The Canadian Department works with stage locals to organize more theaters, venues, and shows. Also involved in motion picture and tradeshow, the Canadian Department works closely with all other IATSE departments on international agreements with employers and providing education and training opportunities tailored for Canadian members. The department also provides support for Canadian members and locals, coordinates efforts on national initiatives with regards to benefits, legislation, political activism, lobbying, and more.
US national charters
Each local functions autonomously, maintaining their own Constitution and By-Laws, elections, dues structure, membership meetings, and more. Locals negotiate labor contracts regarding wages, work rules, and grievance procedures. They also provide services to their members by administering health and retirement funds and providing training and education. The IATSE local unions work for the interest of their membership, while also representing the overarching goals of the IATSE International.
Stagecraft members work in venues that include Broadway theaters, opera houses, dance centers, regional theaters, seasonal outdoor amphitheaters, arenas, concert halls, parks, television awards venues and stadiums. Additionally, the front-of house workers who seat the patrons, work in the box office, scan the tickets and look after the audiences in dozens of ways are also represented by the IATSE, as are the press agents, house and company managers in legitimate theater.
Motion picture and TV
Members of the IATSE Motion Picture Division help create all elements of movies and television. Motion Picture and TV members build the sets, design the clothing, frame the image, record the dialogue, edit the scenes, and animate the characters to help bring a story to life. Their work covers movies large and small, animated films and series, internet content, television shows across the dial - including children’s programming, reality, game, awards and talk shows.
As one of the newcomers to the entertainment world, the Convention and Tradeshow Industry has been enlarging its footprint over the last four decades. In that time, IATSE Stage and Exhibition Locals have been engaged in the installation and dismantling of local, national and international Conventions and Tradeshows. More recently, the International’s Tradeshow Department has formalized its relationship with multi-national employers by initiating national agreements and standardizing conditions for workers in the industry.
The IATSE has represented workers in television broadcast for over sixty years. Initially IA members in broadcast were employed primarily at local television stations. Beginning in 1998 the IATSE began to organize technicians engaged in telecasting live sports events over regional cable sports networks. Today the Broadcast Department consists of numerous local unions that represent television station employees, locals that specialize in live sports broadcasting and thousands of members working in broadcast from stage, studio mechanics, wardrobe and make-up artists and hair stylist local unions. Broadcast technicians include technical directors, audio technicians, camera operators, video technicians, capture playback operators, editors, graphics artist and utility technicians.
The Communications Department enhances and supports the IATSE by maintaining the IATSE’s website, social media channels, email program, and coordinating with other departments and Locals to disseminate information. Established in 2011, the Communications Department has set up an informal network of communication amongst Locals, and between Locals and the International. The Communications Department also creates educational materials to assist local unions and IATSE staff with modern communications methods and platforms.
Education and training
The Education & Training Department facilitates and supports a culture of ongoing learning within the IATSE. Equally dedicated to leadership skills for union officers and craft skills and safety training for workers, the department sponsors and promotes union skills courses and workshops. It also works closely with the IATSE Training Trust Fund, ETCP, InfoComm, USITT and others in order to help workers keep abreast of new technologies, equipment, and styles of work. Additionally, the department operates outreach programs to high school and college students. The department was officially established in 2012, following the founding of the Labor Education Assistance Program (LEAP) in 2009. LEAP provides reimbursement money to officers of local unions who enroll in qualifying Labor Studies Programs.