The I.A.T.S.E. – The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories, and Canada, AFL-CIO – began in 1893. In 1893 show business was confined almost entirely to the theater. During the next twenty years, stage carpenters, props people, and electricians pioneered a drive for union recognition, and established stagecraft as one of the highest paid and most respected in America.
Beginning in 1908, soon after the birth of the film industry, projectionists throughout the continent were brought into the I.A.T.S.E. In the 1920’s union benefits were extended to the Hollywood studios and the vast network of film exchanges throughout the United States and Canada. And finally, as soon as commercial television got a start, the I.A.T.S.E. took its natural place in this newest field of visual entertainment.
Today there are over 330 local unions of the I.A.T.S.E. throughout the United States and Canada representing more than 130,000 members. The older Locals, beginning with the Stage Employees, all represent specific film and theatre crafts. Mixed locals (Stage Employees and Projectionists) grew over the years in the smaller cities to service theater venues and motion picture theaters. In recent decades, other Studio Mechanics Locals like 209 were chartered as production areas outside of Los Angeles and New York grew and the need for Locals to organize the regional workforce and administer contracts became increasingly necessary.