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Hollywood’s top guilds and studios remained in negotiations on Friday for an expected extension and potential update to their COVID-19 safety protocols agreement, which is set to expire on Sunday.
Teamsters Local 399 recording secretary Lindsay Dougherty confirmed on Friday that the two sides were still in negotiations. No other unions contacted on Friday or Saturday, nor the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), provided further updates. On Friday IATSE Local 600 noted to members that the COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement’s extension agreement struck by industry unions and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) had been extended until March 15.
The deal between the AMPTP, representing the studios, and unions IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, the Teamsters and the Basic Crafts first was reached in September 2020; it’s since been extended several times, and modifications were made last July to incorporate vaccines for the first time.
In July 2021, the unions and studios agreed to allow producers to mandate vaccines for Zone A, which consists of the cast and crew that are in close contact with them. Producers can also seek a waiver to extend a vaccine mandate on a production to other Zones.
The unions furthermore requested from studios during the rise of the highly contagious omicron variant nationwide that Zone A be tested for COVID-19 daily; that Zone B be tested two to three times per week; that N95, KN95 or KF94 masks be used on set; and that productions push the “promotion of vaccine boosters.” The Directors Guild of America told members in late January that “Most studios took our concerns seriously and adopted these measures on their productions,” The Hollywood Reporter reported.
At that time there were no further recommendations made for safety in Zone C and Zone D. Guild members in postproduction fall into Zone D, a group that the latest agreement only requires to be tested pre-employment. However, numerous sources in Local 700 (the Motion Pictures Editor Guild) have asserted that this isn’t enough and want to see more frequent testing written into the agreement.
While a federal vaccine or testing mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees was barred by the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13, Democratic legislators in California introduced a bill on Friday that would mandate vaccines for both employees and independent contractors in California unless there is a legitimate medical, religious or disability reason for an exemption.
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