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West Coast IATSE Members Ratify Three-Year Contract

West Coast members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have ratified a three-year successor deal to their master contract.

IATSE announced the ratification of the contract, which includes a 3% hike in annual wage minimums and covers 43,000 members, on Wednesday. The new deal is retroactive to July 31.

Leaders of 12 of the 13 West Coast IATSE locals backed the new three-year tentative agreement with studios and networks. Leaders of Editors Guild Local 700 strongly opposed the deal, saying that it fell short on provisions for turnaround time, funding for the pension plan, and new media residuals from shows aired on streaming services in a rare instance of dissension within IATSE, which usually has presented a united front.

The union said that the new deal includes “broad gains” in several key areas for workers, with no givebacks along with “substantial” enhancements to turn-around, and the option of employer-provided round-trip transportation or housing after long work days. It also said the contract contains significant improvements to working conditions on a wide variety of streaming productions.

“This contract is a vital step forward in the continued financial health of our retirement benefits and maintains our robust health benefits, with no increased costs to members” said IATSE International president Matthew D. Loeb. “I would like to thank the members of the bargaining committee, who put in hundreds of hours of hard work over the last year to get this done. Your dedication to our members’ well-being improves working conditions for everyone working in our industry.”

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which serves as the negotiating arm for the companies, issued a statement Wednesday: “The AMPTP applauds the leadership of IATSE President Matt Loeb and the Business Representatives of the IATSE West Coast Studio Local Unions in obtaining ratification of a new three-year Hollywood Basic Agreement.  We look forward to continuing our long-time working partnership with the IATSE and its Local Unions to address the evolving needs of both management and labor as significant transitions and new developments occur in the industry during the term of the new agreement.”

IATSE leaders also sent out a letter announcing the ratification. The letter’s signers did not include anyone representing Local 700. Here’s the letter:

Sisters and Brothers,

Over the past three years (and even in recent months) we have all witnessed deep changes occurring in all sectors of the entertainment industry. We are in an era of dramatic transformation, and these changing dynamics are expected to continue on an industry-wide scale. To adapt and meet these new circumstances, we had ambitious goals for the 2018 Basic Agreement, each one fundamental to improving the lives and futures of IATSE members. We set out to:

Secure wage increases of 3% per year;
Protect our health and pension plans;
Increase benefit contributions from all employers, including those producing streaming content;
Improve safety and quality of life;  
Improve rest periods;
Expand and improve wages, terms and conditions for work on streaming platforms.
We are proud to say the tentative agreement achieved this and more.

After months of numerous and difficult bargaining sessions, the IATSE West Coast Studio Locals overwhelmingly stand side-by-side in recommending the agreement reached on July 26th. The tentative agreement improves wages and working conditions while also securing the health of the benefit funds for over 40,000 IATSE members and their families. We made these advancements with no increase in out-of-pocket healthcare costs to members, no reduction in the quality of members’ healthcare, and no decline in members’ working conditions.

We secured additional hourly contributions to our benefit plans from the employers, ensuring the future strength of the plans. Some companies, including those independents that produce content for streaming services, will contribute an additional $0.75 per hour in each year of the agreement, while those companies that have paid residuals in excess of $15 million will contribute an additional $0.40 per hour over the term of the agreement. In addition to their ongoing residual obligation, by structuring the increased benefit contributions in this way, we will secure more money to fund the plans from content produced for streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, and reduce the subsidy for companies that have no residual obligations.

These additional contributions will add $153 million into our health plan over the life of the agreement, with no erosion to benefits or coverage, and at no cost to members. It is important to note that future pension increases and 13th/14th checks for pre-2009 retirees are tied to reserves in the health plan.

A new funding mechanism for theatrical-length streaming content that wouldn’t otherwise generate a residual or supplemental market payment will now result in additional monies for our pension plan. The producers agreed to a lump-sum payment on live action and animated streaming features, when also released theatrically. This is in addition to an existing residual that is triggered when traditional content moves to online platforms, which produced over $90 million in funding for the Pension Plan in 2017.

Quality of life improvements were also of paramount importance and our gains will mean more personal time and safer working conditions. For hourly and weekly on-production and off-production employees on one-hour dramatic and half-hour single-camera series beyond season one and mini-series, a minimum daily ten-hour turnaround will become the new standard for local and nearby hires. Crew members with less than a 10-hour turnaround will receive an improved rest period on feature and long-form productions after the second consecutive 14-hour day.  

Hourly and weekly post-production employees will also gain an additional hour of turnaround across the board for similar series and content, and two 14-hour consecutive days will trigger a nine-hour turnaround on those types of productions.  

In addition, the producers will provide roundtrip transportation or courtesy housing for all bargaining unit members who work in excess of 14 hours, or 12 hours in some circumstances.

On-call employees will receive an increase to twelve hours of health and pension benefit contributions for each sixth and seventh days worked. Not only does this more closely reflect the amount of work performed by these members but it will result in additional qualifying hours and pension benefits.

Multiple improvements were negotiated for wages, terms and conditions covering a wide range of budget thresholds for streaming content. New media features over $30 million will be produced under the full Basic Agreement, instead of the long-form sideletter, and a new mid-range new media budget tier has been added, capturing wages, terms and conditions for work that was previously fully negotiable.

Training and safety are of paramount importance to the IATSE. The stipend for CSATF training classes will be increased by $5 per hour effective August 1, 2019; the confusing and limiting “new media roster” will be absorbed by the Industry Experience Roster, providing more flexibility for members working throughout our industry.  

The parties are committed to workforces that are reflective of the demographics of their communities and have agreed to the creation of a diversity and inclusion task force.

We went into bargaining focused on protecting the pension and health plan, and this tentative agreement achieves our goals. There will be no cuts to pension and health benefits under this agreement.

Your bargaining committee made significant progress on each of our key priorities. For this reason, the West Coast Studio Locals overwhelmingly endorse this agreement.

This is not an exhaustive list of the gains achieved in this Agreement. Once the final contract language is agreed to, the Local Unions will send all of the information you need to make an informed decision about ratification. When it comes time to vote, we encourage you to vote yes.  

In Solidarity,

Matthew D. Loeb, International President
Ed Brown, Business Agent, Local 44
Thom Davis, Business Agent, Local 80
Rebecca Rhine, National Executive Director, Local 600
Scott Bernard, Business Agent, Local 695
David Swope, Business Agent, Local 705
Tommy Cole, Business Agent, Local 706
Patric Abaravich, Business Representative/Corresponding Secretary, Local 728
Robert Denne, Business Agent, Local 729
Chuck Parker, National Executive Director, Local 800
Doug Boney, Business Agent, Local 884
Rachael Stanley, Executive Director, Local 892

 

 

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