As IATSE and Producers Reach Tentative Deal, Ratification Process Begins

The final result isn't expected to be known until late August or early September.
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IATSE, the union that represents most unionized film and TV crewmembers, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Thursday reached a tentative deal on a new three-year contract. Even so, the agreement still requires ratification to go into effect and the final result won't be known until late August or early September.

At least one of the IATSE Local leaders is recommending non-ratification to her board. Cathy Repola, national executive director of Local 700, the Motion Picture Editors Guild, called the deal "a totally, unnecessarily unacceptable agreement" in a memo to members.

In contrast, IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb called the agreement a "huge victory," saying that it “will bring significant gains and continued security for the welfare and livelihood of all IATSE members covered by the Basic Agreement."

These varying views center on the way the pension and heath care plans will be funded, as well as additional areas, such as turnaround time.

The next step is that IATSE will prepare information about the new agreement, which will be sent along with the memorandum of the agreement, to the Locals. The Locals will then forward these materials, along with their own their own letter and a ballot, to their members, who will have roughly two weeks to vote.

When the votes are tabulated, the process works like an electoral college: The members' votes are counted on a Local by Local basis, and the majority determines whether that Local will vote in favor or against ratification. Each Local will cast a certain number of votes depending on the size of the Local, just as the electoral college gives the most populated states the most votes.

The largest Locals, which have the most votes, are Local 600 (International Cinematographers), Local 700 (Motion Picture Editors) and Local 800 (Art Directors).

If Local 700 votes against ratification, the Motion Picture Editors would still be bound by the deal if enough other Locals vote to ratify. As yet, there does not appear to be organized opposition to the deal in the other affected Locals.

Those Locals include 10 other constituents of IATSE's West Coast Studio Locals: 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 (Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists), Local 728 (Studio Electrical Lighting Technicians), Local 729 (Set Painters and Sign Writers) Local 884 (Studio Teachers), Local 871 (Script Supervisors/Continuity, Coordinators, Accountants & Allied Production Specialists) and Local 892 (Costume Designers).

The current IATSE Basic Agreement is set to expire on July 31. IATSE members will work under the current contract until the results of this vote are available. THR has learned that, as is often the case, the ratification will be deemed retroactive, in this case to Aug. 1.