Halyna Hutchins supported a Hollywood union protesting dangerous working conditions days before she was shot on the 'Rust' set

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Halyna Hutchins supported a Hollywood union protesting dangerous working conditions days before she was shot on the 'Rust' set
Union rally at the Motion Picture Editors Guild IATSE in September. Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • The cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed by a prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin on a film set.
  • Last week, a prominent Hollywood union had plans to strike over dangerous working conditions.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the labor union that represents Hollywood's crew and technical workers, including cinematographers, editors, and hairstylists, was on the brink of a strike over poor working conditions days before Halyna Hutchins was killed by a prop firearm.

Plans for the historic walkout were shelved Sunday after the IATSE announced a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the trade organization that represents the major Hollywood studios such as Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., and Universal.

In a statement, the IATSE wrote that the proposed contract "addresses core issues, including reasonable rest periods; meal breaks; a living wage for those on the bottom of the pay scale; and significant increases in compensation to be paid by new-media companies."

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By "new-media companies," the statement refers to streamers such as Netflix, which the IATSE had argued provided "unfairly discounted" pay rates to its members because nontraditional producers were often classified as "New Media."

"This is a Hollywood ending," IATSE's international president, Matthew Loeb, said in the statement. "Our members stood firm. We are tough and united."

An industry walkout had almost seemed imminent earlier this month when 98% of IATSE members voted to authorize a strike if union leaders were unable to broker a deal with the studios. The union had been seeking a three-year basic agreement that addressed a variety of issues surrounding working conditions. Unions members had argued, as Variety reported, that the surge in productions over the past decade had led to long hours and dangerous environments on set.

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Halyna Hutchins supported a Hollywood union protesting dangerous working conditions days before she was shot on the 'Rust' set
Halyna Hutchins died after Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun on set. Halyna Hutchins/Instagram, Jim Spellman/Getty Images

"That ramp-up in production just made the work and life situation unbearable," Mike Loomer, a set dresser in Hollywood who is an IATSE Local 44 member, told The Guardian. "We can't work at that feverish pace. We are not machines. We are people that need rest.

"Working in Hollywood is not just wrap parties and red-carpet events. It is a factory job, where we move the factory and set it up every day before we do our shift. The amount of physical labor that is required to make an hour of television … it's unbelievable to the average person."

Hutchins, who authorities say was killed Thursday by a prop gun fired by the actor Alec Baldwin on the set of the movie "Rust" at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico, had posted a photo on social media from the film's set writing that the crew stood in solidarity with the IATSE.

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"Standing in #IAsolidarity with our @IATSE crew here in New Mexico on RUST," she wrote.

A post shared by Halyna Hutchins (@halynahutchins)

Hutchins, 42, died after being transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital in critical condition. The film's director, Joel Souza, 48, left the hospital Friday morning after also being injured in the incident, a cast member said. Deadline previously reported that Souza was hit in the shoulder.

Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the set about 1:50 p.m. local time after receiving a call about a shooting.

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"According to investigators it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged," the sheriff's office said in a statement provided to Insider. "Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged."

Insider has contacted representatives of IATSE for comment.

Michael Chambliss, a representative for the IATSE guild, told BuzzFeed News that what happened to Hutchins was a "tragic and needless accident."

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In a statement released shortly after the news broke, the cinematographers guild's national president, John Lindley, and national executive director, Rebecca Rhine, said: "We received the devastating news this evening, that one of our members, Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography on a production called 'Rust' in New Mexico, died from injuries sustained on the set."

The statement continued: "The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event."

Hutchins was a graduate of the prestigious American Film Institute and was named a "rising star" by American Cinematographer magazine in 2019.

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