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IATSE and AMPTP Reach a Tentative Agreement, But at Least One Local Is Poised to Reject It

West coast crew win a pay raise and some concessions on streaming content, but Local 700's leadership warns the deal is an undefined band-aid that leaves pensions vulnerable.

IATSE

Early this morning, AMPTP and IATSE reached a tentative three-year agreement. The leadership of Local 44 (which represents key craftspeople in the art department) sent out an email to members that put a positive spin on the agreement, listing the union’s 16 “accomplishments” in the negotiations.

As the day wore on, however, it seemed that may not be a majority view. Social-media sentiment skewed toward frustration, which was echoed in an email sent by Cathy Repola, national executive director of Local 700 (Editors). Writing to members, she referred to the tentative deal as “a totally, unnecessarily, unacceptable agreement,” adding that at a special board of directors meeting, she would recommend nonratification.

Based on 44’s email to the members, IATSE won an annual pay increase of three percent per year. IATSE would also receive more money from “new media” sources, specifically streaming-only content, which the union argued was leaving the pension and healthcare funds depleted.

Repola warned that the “New Media Residual” being offered by the AMPTP was less than what DGA, WGA and SAG received in their recent contracts, and used a metric that was impossible to fully quantify. She also indicated that the increased funding of benefits was insufficient, with no hourly pension contribution, and would leave the union facing the same fight in three years.

The AMPTP has argued that based on IATSE’s prior contracts, when compared to prior above-the-line union contracts, the below-the-line crew in IATSE do not deserve that same concessions won by directors, writers and actors.

On the issue of shortened work hours, West Coast crews can only claim a partial victory in their fight to achieve an across-the-board 10-hour turnaround — the minimum time between when crew leaves the set for day and must return to work the next day. Editors on the West Coast got a bump in their mandatory rest period, from eight hours to nine, while the other locals received a 10-hour turnaround — but not on pilots or the first season of episodic series. Movies and longform series only get a 10-hour turnaround after working two consecutive 14-hour days.

The AMPTP has promised protections for workers who feel too tired to work safely, and will supply housing and transportation after the work day exceeds 14 hours. While the producers feel confident this deals with the safety issues, a shortened work day has become passionate battle cry from crew members who feel they are unnecessarily overworked as producers try to save money on the number of production and post-production days.

From the start, Repola and Local 700 have been the most vocal about a potential strike and the need to make a stand. Local 44 is largely viewed as one of the weaker locals in the negotiations. It’s unclear how the other 11 locals in negotiations will frame the tentative agreement to its members.

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