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Unless an agreement is reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in the coming days, 60,000 IATSE film and TV workers will go on strike on Monday, Oct. 18, at 12:01 a.m. PDT.
IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb said on Wednesday that the union will continue bargaining with the producers this week in the hopes of reaching an agreement that addresses core issues, such as rest periods, meal breaks and minimum wages. “However, the pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency,” Loeb warned. “Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.” The IATSE Twitter account added that a deal must be reached by the end of this weekend to avert a strike.
In a comment on Wednesday, the AMPTP said, “There are five whole days left to reach a deal, and the studios will continue to negotiate in good faith in an effort to reach an agreement for a new contract that will keep the industry working.”
A strike by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has the potential to shut down motion picture and TV productions nationwide that are produced under the union and AMPTP’s Basic Agreement, Area Standards Agreement and Videotape Agreement, which have all expired.
The action follows months of failed negotiations with the AMPTP, which bargains for the studios, to produce a tentative new Basic Agreement for 13 Locals and other contracts that cover roughly 60,000 entertainment workers.
Loeb set the strike date with the overwhelming support of the union’s members. On Oct. 4, IATSE announced that more than 98 percent of eligible union members voted to authorize a strike should it be deemed the best course of action with negotiations at an impasse.
Following that vote, IATSE and AMPTP returned to the bargaining table on Oct. 5. and negotiated throughout the week and into the following. AMPTP president Carol Lombardini is the lead negotiator for the AMPTP. Union sources have suggested that in the latest round of negotiations, studios have slow-walked talks: In an email to Local 700 members on Tuesday night, national executive director Cathy Repola wrote that “the pace of negotiations does not reflect the urgency of the situation.” Another union source that asked to remain anonymous told THR that IATSE has “a legal obligation to continue engaging in good faith” and faces more challenges “if the employer continues to inch forward and inch forward, even if they’re not addressing things substantially.”
The union has told members that sticking points in talks centered on establishing adequate rest and meal periods, higher minimum rates for certain crafts, more compensation from streaming and “new media” projects, and funding for its pension and health plan.
Thirteen locals work under the Basic Agreement including the largest, Local 600 (International Cinematographers Guild), which represents 9,000 members. It reported on Monday that 92 percent of eligible members participated in the strike authorization vote, with 99 percent voting “yes.” Local 700 (Motion Picture Editors Guild), with 8,500 members, similarly got out 92 percent of eligible voters, with 98 percent voting “yes.”
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 signwriters), Local 884 (studio teachers), Local 871 (script supervisors/continuity, coordinators, accountants & allied production specialists) and Local 892 (costume designers).
A strike would likely not affect productions linked to the union’s Commercials agreement, Low Budget agreement and Pay TV agreement, so union members operating under those contracts may continue to work.
During the negotiations period, organizations including the American Society of Cinematographers and American Cinema Editors provided statements of support for IATSE, as did major entertainment unions. The DGA released a statement of solidarity on Monday, signed by DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter and board members including Ron Howard, Ava DuVernay, Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg.
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