With a walk-out looming at 12:01 a.m. Monday, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have reportedly reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining deal.
The AMPTP is a trade association that represents major employers and producers of television and film including Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Apple, Netflix, and Amazon, among others.
The new agreement covers the next three years. This averts the first below-the-line workers strike in Hollywood history.
So, what happens next? The agreement will now go to the union’s locals for ratification, which could take weeks or months (but a strike would be avoided). IATSE members will be briefed by their local leaders on full details and language of the tentative agreement early this week. A ratification vote will be held with members casting ballots online using a similar process that was used to conduct the recent strike authorization vote.
The deal comes after more than 60,000 IATSE members were days away from going on strike. The union had set a deadline of Monday, Oct. 18, at 12:01 a.m. PT to reach a deal. If that didn’t happen, union members would have began a nationwide strike that would set in motion the biggest work stoppage over a labor dispute since the 2007-08 strike by the Writers Guild of America. It would have been the first strike for IATSE in its 145-year history
“Our members will see significant improvements, but our employers also will benefit,” said Mike Miller Vice President and Motion Picture Director for IATSE. “This settlement allows pre-production, production and post-production to continue without interruption. Workers should have improved morale and be more alert. Health and safety standards have been upgraded.”
This agreement, and the contract campaign before it, should serve as a model for other workers in the entertainment and tech industries, for workers employed by gaming companies, and for so-called “gig workers,” explained Loeb. “We’re the original gig workers.”
“Like non-union, freelance workers, many of our highly-skilled members go to work at different times, for different employers, at different locations,” Loeb said. “The difference is, our people have healthcare and retirement benefits, can negotiate for better wages and conditions, and have a voice and power because they work together through their union.”
“Solidarity is more than a word,” Loeb added. “It’s the way to get things done.”
REELated: Rumor: IATSE and AMPTP close to striking a deal
IATSE leadership’s four core issues were:
- Excessively unsafe and harmful working hours.
- Unlivable wages for the lowest paid crafts.
- Consistent failure to provide reasonable rest during meal breaks, between workdays, and on weekends.
- Workers on certain “new media” streaming projects get paid less, even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters.
Many film and television workers had lamented how the workweek commonly ran into the weekend as Fridays and Saturdays became one long workday or a “Fraturday.” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, in remarks to the National Press Club in Washington earlier this week, said that IATSE members were “fighting for the weekend.” Under the terms of the new agreement film and television workers would now have a minimum of rest over the weekend.
AMPTP had said earlier it addressed the union’s demands with a proposal that included increases of 10-19% in minimum wages for Local 871 members, an average of 18% increase in minimums for certain new media productions, and covering the $400 million deficit in the IATSE Health Plan without raising premiums and other healthcare costs like deductibles and co-pays for dependents.
Late Saturday, President Matt Loeb and the 13 Hollywood Locals announced that the IATSE had tentatively agreed to terms and conditions for the 2021 Basic and Videotape Agreements.
In the statement Loeb said, “Everything achieved was because you, the members, stood up and gave us the power to change the course of these negotiations. Our solidarity, at both the leadership and rank and file level, was the primary reason that no local was left behind and every priority was addressed.
Because of you we realized:
• Living wage achieved
• Improved wages and working conditions for streaming
• Retroactive scale wage Increases of 3% annually
• Employer Funded Benefits for the term
• Increased meal period penalties including prevailing rate
• Daily Rest Periods of 10 hours without exclusions
• Weekend Rest Periods of 54 and 32 hours
• Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday Holiday
• Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives
• 13th and 14th checks for pre-August 2009 retirees
• Additional MPI Hours for On-Call Employees
• Expansion of Sick Leave Benefit to the entire country
Your local will provide more detailed information over the next few days. The Memorandum of Agreement will be available when drafting is completed. We are currently working out the details of the electronic ratification process.
Your strike authorization vote, your preparation for a strike and your willingness to risk your livelihood to fight for yourselves and each other has profoundly changed our union. We thank you for your unwavering support.”
The reactions of a relieved Hollywood are being tweeted out:
It would seem like the two parties have reached a compromise that will keep our favorite TV series and films in production.
Negotiations continue for those who work under the similar Area Standards Agreement and belong to IATSE local unions in major production hubs such as New Mexico, New York, Illinois, Georgia and Louisiana.
Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1