Negotiators for the West Coast members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — Hollywood’s key below-the-line union — have reached a three-year tentative agreement with studios and networks.
The deal was announced Thursday afternoon after three days of negotiations. IASTE had held three rounds of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — one in early April, one between June 26 to June 29 and the final meetings this week.
If ratified, the tentative deal would be a successor agreement to the current three-year master contract covering 13 Hollywood locals, including Cinematographers Guild Local 600, Editors Guild Local 700, and Art Directors Guild Local 800. In total, the contract covers more than 43,000 employees.
The current deal expires on July 31. Key issues that emerged in the talks included continued funding for the union’s pension plan and safety issues, including excessive hours, and revamping the residuals formulas from shows aired on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
The negotiations have been taking place under a news blackout. The IATSE usually reaches an agreement with AMPTP long before expiration so the fact that negotiations remain open has been interpreted as a sign of the difficulty of reaching a compromise amid profound changes in how the entertainment business operates. In 2015, IATSE reached a tentative agreement more than three months prior to expiration.
Members of Local 700 have been the center of opposition to a new agreement in recent weeks as the outlines of a deal began appearing. National Executive Director Cathy Repola sent out a message to members Thursday calling the agreement “unacceptable.”
Early this morning a totally, unnecessarily unacceptable agreement was reached concluding the current Basic Agreement negotiations. I’ll be sending out several emails. A brief note now touching on the main points of the agreement:
The change to turnaround is 9 hours for Local 700, and 10 hours for all other locals. However, this will not apply to pilots or 1st season episodics. For features and long-form TV, the provision will only apply if you work two consecutive 14-hour days. None of this will apply to any On Call employees. An additional hour of straight time pay is the only penalty if the 9th hour is invaded.This does not impact the existing 10-hour turnaround for our New York-based members.
- New Media Residual
The funding of the MPI Plans was addressed to some extent, but in a way that is short-sighted and will undoubtedly leave us fighting again in the next round of negotiations and has the studios putting in very little money over the next cycle. There was no additional hourly pension contribution negotiated. A new “New Media Residual” is included, but it is not what the other Guilds (DGA, WGA, or SAG) received, and it is impossible to put a value on it. You will likely hear overestimated numbers as to what this proposal is worth, but anyone who tells you for the next contract cycle what it’s worth is guessing.
- $.75 Increase in Hourly Contribution to the Health Plans
Our side agreed, with strong opposition from me, that all signatories of the agreement (excepting the major studios and any other companies they designate) will be subject to a $.75 per hour contribution increase to the health plan each year of the agreement and resulting in a $2.25 per contribution hour increase by the third year. This will have a detrimental impact on our members who work at and own independent post facilities – sound houses, trailer editing, music editing, digital companies, and employee shareholders – because escalating their overhead costs will likely result in decreased employment. This will also make organizing non-union companies more difficult.This allows the studios to put a burden on smaller companies while avoiding any substantial contributions to the plans themselves.
President Alan Heim has called for a Special Board of Directors meeting where I will recommend non ratification of this deal to the Board.
There will be plenty more details to come soon…
National Executive Director