The union representing 60,000 film and television crew workers reached a tentative agreement with Hollywood producers October 16. The deal averted a first-ever national strike by the Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), which was set to begin the next night—at least for the time being. The contracts will be voted on in the next several weeks. Matthew Loeb, IATSE president since 2008, hailed the agreement as “historic.” But though Loeb calls the agreement a “Hollywood ending,” for the tens of thousands of members who voted to authorize a strike, the credits aren’t rolling yet. Initial responses on social media seem mixed at best, and many members are publicly calling on their colleagues to vote no.
The tentative deal is for the Basic and Videotape Agreements, which affect some 40,000 film and television workers. According to IATSE, the proposed contract addresses issues at the heart of the dispute, including “reasonable” rest periods, meal breaks, a living wage for workers at the bottom of the pay scale and “significant” increases in compensation from new media companies. The tentative agreement, which still must be ratified by IATSE members, features as deal points a living wage for the lowest-paid earners; improved wages and working conditions for streaming; retroactive wage increases of 3% annually; increased meal period penalties; daily rest periods of 10 hours without exclusions; weekend rest periods of 54 hours; the addition of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday added to the schedule as a holiday; and adoption of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
IATSE members have overwhelmingly voted in favor of a strike authorization, the union announced Monday morning. Ninety-eight percent of all votes cast were in favor of a strike, and 90 percent of all members turned out to vote. But production won’t grind to a halt, at least not yet. The results give IATSE President Matthew Loeb the power to call a strike for IATSE members working under two expired contracts: the Hollywood Basic Agreement, which covers the approximately 40,000 to 45,000 members of 13 West Coast locals, and the Area Standards Agreement, which covers some 10,000 to 15,000 members employed on productions in places like Georgia, New Mexico, and Louisiana. Negotiations between IATSE and the AMPTP reached an impasse last month, prompting Loeb to call the vote.
Leaders of IATSE’s largest local – the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600 – are urging their members to authorize a strike against film and television productions across the country. The local’s national executive board voted unanimously on Sunday to support a nationwide strike authorization vote and to recommend that members vote “Yes” on it. “The elected leaders of Local 600 spoke with one voice today on behalf of the thousands of their members who are unified in their resolve to get a fair deal from the employers who have walked away from the bargaining table,” said Local 600 president John Lindley. “This fight is about basic rights and safe and healthy working conditions,” said Rebecca Rhine, the local’s national executive director.
IATSE is gearing up for a possible strike against the film and television industry, which would be the first industry-wide strike in the union’s history. The union and management’s AMPTP will return to the bargaining table on Thursday in an effort to reach an agreement on a new film and TV contract in advance of Friday’s expiration of their current deal. A strike, if it comes to that, would still be several weeks away, however, as IATSE continues to lay the groundwork for a possible walkout, which includes a text-messaging campaign to educate members about the negotiations and what’s at stake. “Our goal is to reach every single one of our members and make sure they know what is going on in negotiations; where to go get more information; and, when the moment comes, how to make their voices heard by voting,” the union said in a message to members Tuesday night.