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IATSE Strike Averted: Hollywood Shutdown Halted as New AMPTP Film and TV Contract Reached

IATSE's strike would have covered 60,000 Hollywood workers working on productions in Los Angeles and across the U.S.

A poster advocating union solidarity hangs from an office building housing The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 80, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Burbank, Calif. The IATSE overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike for the first time in its 128-year history. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

An IATSE poster hangs outside the Local 80 office in Burbank.

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

It’s official: IATSE and AMPTP have reached a new film and TV contract and a strike has been averted, Deadline first reported.

“It took a lot to get here, but this is a good deal, a fair deal for everyone concerned,” a source close to the deal told Deadline Saturday. “Time to break out the cigars,” the individual said.

The deal will need to be approved by a vote of the IATSE membership.

In an email to members, IATSE said the following: “Late Saturday, President Matt Loeb and the 13 Hollywood Locals announced that the IATSE has tentatively agreed to terms and conditions for the 2021 Basic and Videotape Agreements. Everything achieved was because you, the members, stood up and gave us the power to change the course of these negotiations. Our solidarity, at both the leadership and rank and file level, was the primary reason that no local was left behind and every priority was addressed.”

The statement then itemized specific negotiating points that had been realized by the discussions thus far:

  • Living wage achieved
  • Improved wages and working conditions for streaming
  • Retroactive scale wage Increases of 3% annually
  • Employer Funded Benefits for the term
  • Increased meal period penalties including prevailing rate
  • Daily Rest Periods of 10 hours without exclusions
  • Weekend Rest Periods of 54 and 32 hours
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday Holiday
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives
  • 13th and 14th checks for pre-August 2009 retirees
  • Additional MPI Hours for On-Call Employees
  • Expansion of Sick Leave Benefit to the entire country

A strike would have meant tens of thousands of crafts workers would not have shown up to work Monday morning and instead would have picketed outside nearly two dozen sites across Los Angeles. That would have immediately ground a large portion of production to a halt, particularly in LA, though the full geographic scope could have been nationwide and beyond.

The 60,000 crafts workers from 13 Hollywood locals who would have gone on strike represented everyone from editors to grips, along with locals representing studio mechanics across the country. Some of those West Coast locals, like those representing camera operators, editors, and art directors, have a national reach; whether those members would have treated this as a nationwide walkout will be one factor that determines how a strike would impact New York, for example, where members work under separate contracts.

The strike would have applied to productions covered by the now-expired Hollywood Basic and Area Standards agreements. The Hollywood Basic Agreement covered the approximately 40,000 to 45,000 members of 13 West Coast locals, and the Area Standards Agreement covered some 10,000 to 15,000 members employed on productions in places like Georgia, New Mexico, and Louisiana.

Projects under unexpired contracts, including sports broadcasting, low-budget movies, and premium cable shows, were never subject to the dispute. But even though IATSE and the locals are making that distinction clear to members, things could have gotten blurry.

For example, many of the unexpired contracts have provisions that prohibit strikes while the contract is in effect; members working on those projects run the risk of legal consequences if they had walked off the job. But by not walking off the job, they might literally have needed to cross a picket line staged outside the studio where they’re working.

The strike authorization vote held in early October saw 90 percent of eligible members cast ballots, with 98 percent of all votes cast in favor of the authorization.

That was meant to give Loeb a tool to coax further concessions out of the studios. Negotiations between IATSE and the AMPTP, which represents studios and production companies, reached an impasse in September.

At issue were wages that hover just above California’s $14/hour minimum for the lowest-paid crafts, workdays that often exceed 12 hours, overnight turnaround times as short as nine hours, employers who skimp on meal breaks, and workers paid lower wages for “new media” projects (aka streaming) versus theatrical movies and network TV series.

Negotiations resumed after the vote was announced October 4. Loeb on Wednesday set a deal-or-strike deadline of 12:01am PT Monday morning, and by Thursday locals were busy prepping for a strike that looked increasingly likely. For now, they can put away the signs and banners.

Chris O’Falt contributed reporting.

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