Oscars Week Kicks Off Under Cloud of Scandal as Hollywood’s Blue Collar Workers Face AI Extinction

Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times; PhonlamaiPhoto/Getty Images/ZZHollywood To You/Star Max
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times; PhonlamaiPhoto/Getty Images/ZZHollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images

Hollywood is preparing to put its best face forward for the Academy Awards on Sunday. But behind the scenes, the entertainment business is girding itself for a possible calamity in the making — a potential strike by the thousands of “below the line” crew members who keep the industry running.

At the heart of the labor dispute is a familiar villain — artificial intelligence, which threatens to displace hardworking, blue collar workers as well as many desk jockeys who work in post-production with cost-saving algorithms that don’t complain or walk off the job.

A potential strike would mark the third Hollywood shutdown in less than a year. With many in Hollywood still reeling financially from last year’s dual strikes by actors and writers, a third one could be catastrophic.

Hollywood crews are represented overwhelmingly by IATSE and the Teamsters. The powerful unions even represent some premiere talent, like cinematographers and editors.

On Sunday, the rhetoric sounded war-like when more than 2,000 crew members gathered for a rally in Encino, according to a Variety report.

Teamsters president Sean O’Brien reportedly said the unions should commit to withhold their labor — and not grant an extension — if a deal is not agreed by the deadline.

“We have a message for the white collar crime syndicates known as the studios,” he said. “When you fuck with the Teamsters, or any other union, it’s a full contact sport. Put your helmets on and buckle your chin straps.”
IATSE president Matthew Loeb addressed the AI controversy, saying  it should not be used to replace workers, but could be leveraged to lighten workloads.

“Those advantages need to take the pressure off our jobs, so we can enjoy our families and live these lives, and not have to work 80-hour weeks,” Loeb reportedly said. “If that efficiency comes, it needs to come to us and our jobs. And we will use that to do our jobs better. But we want some of the spoils of artificial intelligence.”

As Breitbart News reported, IATSE and the Teamsters are scheduled to enter negotiations with the major studios on Monday.

On the table are numerous issues related to compensation, benefits, and other guarantees. The current contracts are set to expire July 31, after which a strike could theoretically begin.

Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at dng@breitbart.com


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