Georgia Union ‘Expects Continuing Job Stability’ Despite Boycott over Abortion Law

Alyssa Milano speaks after delivering a letter to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's office detailing her opposition to HB 481 at the State Capitol, April 2, 2019, in Atlanta. HB 481 would ban almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. (Photo: John Bazemore, AP)
John Bazemore/AP

Leaders of a local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE Local 479) are reassuring their members that, despite a call for a boycott of Georgia by Hollywood elites over its new “heartbeat” abortion law, the union “expects continuing job stability.”

Amid recommendations that its members donate to the Georgia chapter of the ACLU to help fight the law in court, leaders of Local 479, which represents film industry professionals in Georgia and Alabama, said they do not expect to see a slowdown in film projects within Georgia.

On May 24, Local 479’s executive board released a notice in which it reassured its members of job stability and praised the production companies that are not pulling out of the state, referring to them as “our real supporters”:

We all know that the fallout from the signing of HB 481 has varied. A few production companies have threatened to boycott the state, while others have chosen to continue to work here and have publicly come forward to support the men and women who live here. The production companies that are committed to stay and fight are our real supporters and we applaud their actions. We stand firm with these production companies and thank them for their continued support.

Georgia’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act (HB 481) prohibits abortions in the state after a heartbeat is detected, usually at about six or seven weeks of pregnancy. Cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger are exceptions to the law.

Actress and political activist Alyssa Milano called for a Hollywood boycott of Georgia if Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law. Milano then followed with a call for a sex strike – urging women to engage in abstinence from sex – to protest the end to “reproductive rights.”

Bob Iger, Walt Disney Company’s chairman and CEO, said this week it is not “practical for us to continue to shoot” in Georgia, given the law.

“Right now, we’re watching it very carefully,” Iger told Reuters, suggesting the law could be challenged in court. “We’re being careful and cautious about it. If it becomes law, I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there.”

However, Republican pollster Logan Dobson observed on Twitter that Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi filmed scenes in Croatia, Ireland, and Bolivia – all nations in which abortion was highly restricted at the time of filming:

“In Croatia, abortion is illegal after ten weeks,” Dobson noted. “In Ireland, abortion was illegal (law since modified). In Bolivia, abortion was and is illegal.”

On May 16, Local 479’s executive board said, “Georgia’s film industry is unlikely to experience an industry-wide pull out.”

“Georgia is the 3rd largest production hub in the country, and recent events have sparked media discussions asking if Georgia will maintain that position,” the union leaders said. “We understand that this conversation is disturbing to our members, whose careers depend on job stability.”

“All signs continue to indicate that Georgia’s film industry is unlikely to experience an industry-wide pullout,” the leaders said, adding:

Many productions have publicly stated their intent to remain in Georgia to produce their projects. These studios understand that taking jobs away from our state does not accomplish the change they are seeking, and they have no desire to negatively affect the livelihoods of those they employ.  We are all in agreement that Georgia is still an attractive place for them to bring their projects.

According to the union leaders, over 30 film projects are ongoing in the state.

“This volume of production is right on track with years past and we see no reason to expect any slowdown as the year progresses,” Local 479’s executive board stated. “Make no mistake, the industry understands that pulling out of GA, causing job loss, will not change anyone’s mind or anyone’s beliefs. It would only hurt us all, regardless of which side of this sensitive issue we fall on.”


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