Members of 19 West Coast locals repping more than 20,000 members of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have ratified a new basic agreement by a four-to-one margin.

Three-year pact will go into effect Aug. 1, reflecting the union’s strategic approach of negotiating contracts long before their expiration rather than up against a deadline. The vote was 7,557 for, 1,848 against.

The Intl. Cinematographers Guild Local 600, one of the largest IA units, approved the deal with 1,424 for and 256 against out of approximately 6,400 members.

“The IATSE achieved gains in wages and employer health and pension plan contributions at a time when the United States is facing rising health care costs and corporate pension instability,” the union said.

Planned assistance

Pact increased hourly contributions to the pension and health plans for the first time in 20 years and maintained the qualification and benefit structure of the health plan.

Key terms of the pact call for a 50¢-per-hour increase in the first year, followed by a 2.5% rise in the second and 3% in the third; pension plan hikes of 25¢ per hour in the first year, 15¢ in the second and 10¢ in the third; health plan changes designed to save $54 million through hikes in co-pays; and extension of jurisdiction to work performed for display on the Internet.

Opposition fruitless

Endorsement came despite a campaign among dissidents to vote down the pact. Complaints included the hike in health plan co-pays, wage freezes on first- and second-year episodic TV, reduced wages for single-camera half-hour episodics with budgets under $1.25 million and one-hour episodics under $1.85 million, no changes in meal penalties or mileage and no language to address health and safety problems created by excessive hours.

Negotiators first reached a tentative deal in mid-November, but that pact fell apart the following week before an agreement was reached two days before Christmas. Negotiators for the union warned the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers that it risked not being able to resume negotiations until June.