Tentative agreement reached in IATSE negotiation

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees's Logo. (Courtesy of IATSE)

By Emma Picht
Boston University News Service

Hollywood avoided a strike by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees when the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers agreed to a tentative three-year agreement with the union.

The negotiation occurred after Matthew D. Loeb, president of the IATSE, announced that a nationwide strike would occur unless an agreement was reached. 

The official strike day of Oct. 18 was set after members of the IATSE voted to authorize a strike by a margin of 98.68%. Loeb called the vote after the AMPTP stalled negotiations over the Basic Agreement. 

The Basic Agreement outlines labor standards in Hollywood and dictates the conditions of each workers’ individual contract for employment. The workers’ demands were to add reasonable rest protections, equitable pay on streaming productions and a living wage floor.

Most of those benefits were achieved along with Diversity Equity and Inclusion Initiatives, expansion of sick leave and retroactive scale wage increases, according to an update released by IATSE. Loeb cited the high turnout to the strike authorization vote as the reason why this negotiation was successful and the agreement was reached on Oct. 16.

As the IATSE held their vote for strike authorization, hundreds of testimonies flooded social media about unsafe working conditions. According to the ia_stories Instagram page, some workers said they had 20-hour shifts every day of a shooting schedule, with no overtime and no compensation for night shifts, a protection workers in other industries fought for decades ago. 

The AMPTP represents hundreds of major media production companies, including Warner Bros., Walt Disney Co., Netflix, Marvel, Fox and Universal, all of which profited during the pandemic when the population consumed more media at an individual level through streaming platforms. COVID-19 protections fundamentally changed how media is produced.

In addition to standard call times, companies now have to account for cleanup and sanitization both before and after a shooting day. Directors, actors and producers all work the same hours as before, but now workers behind the scenes show up early and stay late to follow protocols.

After AMPTP initially returned to negotiations, individual studios and directors added days to production schedules in response to the upcoming strike deadline. According to personal social media accounts, IATSE workers are conflicted over whether this version of the Basic Agreement is adequate.

Some members called for a vote of approval. The union has not announced when members will be asked to vote.

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