IATSE Votes to Ratify Contract With Producers

Twelve of 13 affected Locals voted "yes."
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Following a bitter balloting period, IATSE members voted to ratify the union's proposed basic agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the union announced Wednesday.

Twelve of the 13 affected locals voted for ratification, according to the union, which did not release totals. The three-year agreement primarily covers work done in the western U.S. The new deal increases wages 3 percent annually for the next three years, and addresses rest periods, streaming video programs, diversity and other matters.

The approval was expected, as 12 of the 13 Locals had recommended a "Yes" vote to their members. But the board of Local 700, the Motion Picture Editors Guild, had urged its members to vote 'No," with Local 700 executive director Cathy Repola and other MPEG leadership conducting a vigorous campaign against ratification.

“This contract is a vital step forward in the continued financial health of our retirement benefits and maintains our robust health benefits, with no increased costs to members” said IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb. “I would like to thank the members of the bargaining committee, who put in hundreds of hours of hard work over the last year to get this done. Your dedication to our members’ well-being improves working conditions for everyone working in our industry.”

During the voting period, angry letters were exchanged between IASTE and Local 700. An Aug. 8 missive from a Local 700 legal counsel to Loeb accused him of "unprofessional and potentially illegal acts."

Loeb then fired back, condemning Repola, alleging that she "skewed" facts and violated federal labor law by "entering these negotiations acting with authority reserved only for democratically elected union officials." Repola and others subsequently produced a podcast series explaining their opposition.

A post on Local 700's website said that 71 percent of the Local had voted and that of those, 89 percent voted No. Both of those figures are unusually high and signals strong opposition to the contract within the Local.

“We will together embrace this as a win, and seize upon this incredible opportunity for our union,” said Repola in an email to members, as quoted on the website. "We must now turn our focus on building upon your activism, involvement and interest in your union. We must reinvent our union and unite around common goals.”

In something of a turnabout, the Teamsters union, which usually follows IATSE, voted its contract up earlier this month.

“The AMPTP applauds the leadership of IATSE President Matt Loeb and the Business Representatives of the IATSE West Coast Studio Local Unions in obtaining ratification of a new three-year Hollywood Basic Agreement,” said a spokesman for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. “We look forward to continuing our long-time working partnership with the IATSE and its Local Unions to address the evolving needs of both management and labor as significant transitions and new developments occur in the industry during the term of the new agreement.”

In addition to the Editors Guild, the Locals that will work under the new Basic Agreement are Local 44 (Affiliated Property Craftspersons), Local 80 (Studio Grips, Crafts Service, Set Medics, Marine Department and Warehouse Workers), Local 600 (International Cinematographers), 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 800 (Art Directors), Local 884 (Studio Teachers), Local 871 (script supervisors/continuity, coordinators, accountants & allied production specialists) and Local 892 (Costume Designers).

The earlier IATSE Basic Agreement expired July 31. As is often the case, the ratification is expected to be deemed retroactive, in this case to Aug. 1.

Oct. 10, 5:30 p.m. Updated with Local 700 tally and quote from Repola.

Oct. 10, 11:30 p.m. Updated with AMPTP quote.