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October 18, 2021IM -
Just hours before it was scheduled, a strike was averted last month by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), with the union reaching a tentative three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). “Everything achieved was because you, the members, stood up and gave us the power to change the course of these negotiations,” the union told members in an email. “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.”
Over the past three months, IATSE membership has rallied around the belief that now was the time to press for a major change in Hollywood’s status quo. Years of frustration with grueling working conditions and low pay were tipping points for grips, gaffers, editors, designers, and other crew members. The two sides returned to the bargaining table on October 5, after more than 98% of IATSE members overwhelmingly voted to authorize a potential strike with 90% of eligible members voting.
According to the union, priorities that were satisfied in the agreement (though no granular details were provided) include living wages, better wages and working conditions on streaming projects, 3% 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 Plan hours for on-call employees.
If talks did not result in new contracts for film and TV workers that fall under the Basic Agreement, the strike would have been the first in the union’s 128-year history. Thirteen locals work under the Basic Agreement, including the largest local, Local 600 (International Cinematographers Guild), which represents 9,000 members, and Local 700 (Motion Picture Editors Guild), with 8,500 members. The Basic Agreement also covers Local 800 (art directors), Local 44 (affiliated property craftspersons), Local 80 (studio grips, crafts service, set medics, marine department, and warehouse workers), Local 695 (production sound technicians, television engineers, video assist technicians, and studio projectionists), Local 705 (motion picture costumers), Local 706 (makeup artists and hairstylists), Local 728 (studio electrical lighting technicians), Local 729 (set painters and sign writers), Local 884 (studio teachers), Local 871 (script supervisors/continuity, coordinators, accountants, and allied production specialists), and Local 892 (costume designers).
A ratification vote will not be held for several weeks as lawyers translate the deal points into contract language. Between now and possible ratification, IATSE’s 13 West Coast locals will hold membership meetings to outline the specifics of the agreement, discuss the deal’s finer points, answer questions, and make assurances that conditions will be met.