The IATSE is expected to hold a strike authorization vote after the last contract negotiations between the union and the producers failed.
“Today AMPTP informed IATSE that it did not intend to respond to our overall package proposal that was presented to it over a week ago. This failure to continue negotiations can only be interpreted in one direction. They simply will not address the fundamental issues that we have championed many times since the beginning, ”international union president Matthew D. Loeb and 13 local West Coast leaders wrote in a message to members on Monday. “As a result, we will now proceed with a nationwide strike authorization vote to demonstrate our commitment to achieving the long overdue change in this industry.”
The vote, which allows international union president Loeb to order a strike if members allow it, affects at least the union’s 13 west coast locals who are currently in talks for a basic three-way deal. years, a group that includes Locals 44, 80, 600, 695, 700, 705, 706, 728, 729, 800, 871, 884 and 892. IATSE represents more than 150,000 entertainment workers in the United States and Canada, including editors, attendants, operators, cinematographers, sound technicians, costume designers, makeup artists, hairdressers, assistant scriptwriters, script coordinators and others. Loeb, who was re-elected in July, has led the union since 2008.
The IATSE uses a delegate system for strike authorization votes, in which each local has a particular number of delegate votes and if 75 percent or more of the eligible members of that local vote to authorize, all of those delegate votes are counted as a “yes”.
In response to the IATSE announcement, AMPTP said in a statement on Monday that “AMPTP has presented a comprehensive proposal to close the deal that significantly addresses the main negotiating issues of the IATSE “, including” the payment of the deficit of almost 400 million dollars of the pension and health plans “and also” substantial improvements in rest periods, increases in wages and benefits, increases in minimum rates for specific job categories and increases in minimum rates for new media productions ”. AMPTP added: “By choosing to leave the bargaining table to demand a strike authorization vote, the IATSE leadership has stepped away from a comprehensive and generous agenda.
The move comes after a prolonged summer of stops and starts in negotiations between the union representing much of the industry’s team members and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which is negotiating on behalf of the studios and producers and whose main negotiator is AMPTP President Carol Lombardini. Although talks began in mid-May, they were twice delayed before resuming in mid-August, after which the union began warning its members that its negotiators and producers remained “very distant” in their vision of a contract. The basic agreement expired on September 10, although members were told to continue working under their old agreement until specified otherwise. AMPTP and IATSE negotiators were due to meet again earlier this week.
Although both the union and AMPTP are subject to a press blackout during negotiations and details of the talks are being kept under wraps, the union has told its members that sticking points include the codification of adequate rest periods, greater remuneration for streaming and “new media” projects. and the financing of its retirement and health plan.
In its statement on Monday, AMPTP said the main elements of its proposed package included an “economic package for all IATSE members in line with agreements reached with other unions before the pandemic”, minimum rates plus high for specific types of “new media” productions with an average increase of 18 percent, increase in minimum pay rates between 10 and 19 percent for assistant production office coordinators, art department coordinators, assistants from the writers’ room and script coordinators, “significant improvements to rest periods” for television shows of the first season, television series shows, pilots, feature films and distant places and coverage of a projected deficit of 400 million dollars for the IATSE pension and health plan over the next three years. The package also proposed adding Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a public holiday and an agreement on DCI initiatives, the association added.
As talks dragged on between the two sides over the summer, union members ran two separate social media campaigns that activated and galvanized their colleagues. Members of IATSE Local 871 launched the hashtag #IALivingWage, which saw screenplay coordinators, writing assistants, assistant production coordinators, and art department coordinators discuss their financial struggles in the crafts which all have contract minimum wage rates of less than $ 18 an hour. A script coordinator said Hollywood journalist in July that the hashtag was needed because “AMPTP balks at our demand for a rate hike that would allow our members to have a living wage in Los Angeles.” On social media, several members of Local 871 suggested $ 25 an hour with a guarantee of 60 hours per week.
In July, a lighting designer from Local 52 also opened an Instagram account, @ia_stories, which anonymously shared stories from long hours on set. The account, which now has more than 70,000 subscribers, further shares updates on the IATSE negotiations and supports the union’s struggle in negotiations with producers for a living wage, “lasting benefits” and real periods of rest. On Thursday, the account claimed that Instagram had blocked him from posting because “they think we used a service to grow our subscribers so quickly … which, while annoying, is pretty awesome.”
September 20, 6:52 p.m. Updated to include AMPTP statement.