IATSE film and TV strike could be avoided with a polarising agreement
There hasn’t been such a strike threat in Hollywood since World War II. Crew members, make-up artists, and set designers are campaigning for better wages.
After an unprecedented strike authorization, IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached a tentative contract deal Saturday that narrowly averted a major work stoppage. If the deal hadn’t been reached, IATSE members working under affected contracts would have been expected to show up to picket at locations determined by their Locals, such as major studios, starting Monday.
IATSE and the AMPTP confirmed the news, which was first reported by Deadline, on Saturday. The new three-year deal will now go to union members for ratification.
In a letter sent to members, leaders of the 13 West Coast Locals said the tentative deal applied to the 2021 Basic and Videotape Agreements: “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,” it read. Negotiations continue for IATSE’s Area Standards Agreement, the union said.
Contract talks between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers kept up Friday night until 11 p.m. PT and resumed on Saturday as the clock ticked toward a potential strike. On Saturday, a source on the studio side indicated that progress was being made, while IATSE was remaining more tight-lipped and this week has even urged members not to believe unverified information.
According to the letter, union priorities that were satisfied in the agreement (though no granular details were provided) included living wages, better wages and working conditions on streaming projects, 3 percent annual increases of scale wages that are retroactive, “employer-funded benefits” during the course of the contract, higher meal penalties, daily 10-hour turnarounds for all and 54- and 32-hour weekend rest periods.
Other features include incorporating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a holiday, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, amplified sick leave benefits, and more Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans hours for on-call employees.
More details about the agreement will be made available to union members “over the next few days,” the letter adds.
In a statement about the deal, IATSE international president Matthew Loeb said, “This is a Hollywood ending.” He added, “Our members stood firm. We are tough and united.”
IATSE vice president, and motion picture director Mike Miller added, “Our members will see significant improvements, but our employers also will benefit.” He said, “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.”
As talks dragged on between the two sides, union members spearheaded two separate social media campaigns that activated and galvanized colleagues. Members of IATSE Local 871 launched the #IALivingWage hashtag, which saw script coordinators, writers assistants, assistant production coordinators, and art department coordinators discussing their financial struggles in crafts that all have contractual minimum pay rates of less than $18 an hour.
In July, a set lighting technician started an Instagram account, IA Stories
which anonymously shared stories of long hours and challenging work conditions on film sets. The account now has more than 150,000 followers.
If IATSE calls a strike, Local 700 members working remotely or on location have already been instructed to notify their employers using a provided message. For those on location, it includes a sentence stating “I understand that my employer is legally obligated to arrange and pay for me and my equipment to return home.”