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West Coast IATSE Contract Talks Scheduled to Resume June 26

The West Coast members of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Employees — Hollywood’s key below-the-line union — will return to the bargaining table on June 26 after a two-month hiatus.

The first round of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers began April 2 and broke off three days later. The negotiations are for a successor deal 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. The current deal expires on July 31.

“On April 5, we put the negotiations on hold when it became clear that the employer was not prepared to address our key priorities of safety, sustainability and equity,” the Cinematographers Guild said in a May 21 message to members. “We will resume negotiations on June 26, 27 & 28.”

The AMPTP did not respond to a request for comment. The issue of excessive hours is part of the negotiations. The issue has been highlighted by the 1997 death of camera assistant Brent Hershman, who was killed in a traffic accident on his way home from a 19-hour day on the set of “Pleasantville,” and the 2014 death of transportation driver Gary Joe Tuckman, who died after falling asleep at the wheel after working an 18-hour day on the set of “Longmire.”

After Tuckman’s fatal crash, the show’s producers adopted new measures to help ensure the safety of their crew by providing charter buses to take them to and from remote shooting locations.

Famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler even made a documentary about the dangers of long hours in the movie industry called “Who Needs Sleep?”

“We believe the decades-old challenge of unsafe hours is critical and that this negotiation offers our best opportunity to have it addressed in a meaningful and comprehensive way,” the Cinematographers Guild told its members. “We are fully committed to fighting for a healthy productive workplace where every crew member has the reasonable expectation of a safe work environment and a safe drive home. Safety should never be reduced to an economic issue.”

In 2015, the West Coast unions reached the current deal with the AMPTP with annual wage and pension increases; no cuts or increased costs to the participants of the health plan; and “substantial improvements” in working conditions for new media productions.

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