×

West Coast IATSE Talks to Resume as Contract Expiration Looms

The West Coast members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — Hollywood’s key below-the-line union — are returning to the bargaining table on Tuesday, only a week prior to the current contract’s expiration.

IASTE has held two rounds of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, one in early April and the most recent on June 26 to June 29. 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. In total, the contract covers more than 43,000 employees.

The current deal expires on July 31. Key issues that have emerged in the talks have included continued funding for the union’s pension plan and safety issues, including excessive hours.

The AMPTP did not respond to a request for comment. 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.

But negotiations appear to be growing tougher. For example, the Writers Guild of America reached its deal last year on a successor contract less than an hour before its contract expired and SAG-AFTRA reached its agreement on a successor contract three days after expiration.

Members of Local 700 have been active in showing solidarity during the hiatus. More than 1,800 attended a meeting on July 21 at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Los Angeles and a July 17 meeting in New York City drew 300 members, according to a report in Cinemontage, the official journal of the local. Additionally, the local’s Facebook page, “I Am the Union,” has more than 3,000 members.

Local 700 president Alan Heim accused the AMPTP of being unfair in the article.

“This is the first time in my many years as a union member that I feel the studios are not dealing in good faith,” Heim said. “They are denying us the same funding plan offered to the DGA, SAG, and the WGA. Why are the studios attempting to minimize our pension and health plan?”

A source close to the talks told Variety that the companies have indicated that they are supportive of providing the funding needed to keep the health and pension plan viable.

The issue of long hours was 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 following an 18-hour work day on the set of “Longmire.”

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.

The editors, cinematographers, and art directors are part of national IATSE locals. The other locals include Property Craftspersons (Local 44), Costume Designers (Local 892), Make Up Artists & Hair Stylists (Local 706), Motion Picture Costumers (Local 705), Motion Picture Studio Electrical Lighting Technicians (Local 728), Motion Picture Studio Grips, Crafts Service, Set Medics, Marine and Warehouse Workers (Local 80), Motion Picture Set Painters & Sign Writers (Local 729), Motion Picture Studio Teachers and Welfare Workers (Local 884), Production Sound Technicians, Television Engineers, Video Assist Technicians and Studio Projectionists (Local 695), and Script Supervisors/Continuity, Coordinators, Accountants & Allied Production Specialists Guild (Local 871).

More Film

  • Javier Bardem Dune

    Javier Bardem in Talks to Play King Triton in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Javier Bardem is in talks to play King Triton in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. Harry Styles is also in early talks to play Prince Eric. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • UglyDolls

    STX Tries to Put Flops Behind It As It Searches For Star Executive, Fresh Capital

    After a series of film flops and an aborted initial public offering, STX Entertainment is battling mounting skepticism that it can survive in an increasingly unforgiving movie business. As it hustles to find $500 million in fresh capital, the company, which operates in the red according to financial disclosures, is simultaneously hoping to attract a [...]

  • Ryan Simpkins

    Ryan Simpkins Joins Fox-Disney's 'Fear Street' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Simpkins has joined Fox-Disney’s second installment of 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s “Fear Street” trilogy, based on the novels by R.L. Stine. Leigh Janiak is helming all three films. Previously announced cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Julia [...]

  • MPAA Logo

    Motion Picture Association of America Hires Emily Lenzner as Communications Chief

    The Motion Picture Association of America has appointed veteran public relations executive Emily Lenzner as its executive VP of global communications and public affairs. She will report to Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin and oversee the trade group’s communications team in the U.S. and internationally. Lenzner will start Aug. 1 and be based at the MPAA’s [...]

  • 'Cats' Teaser Trailer: See Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift Unveils Feline Moves in 'Cats' Behind-the-Scenes Teaser

    Taylor Swift fans finally get to see some of the results of all those years spent studying her roommates Meredith and Olivia — and also, not incidentally, some time with a choreographer — in a new behind-the-scenes teaser for the movie “Cats.” The three-and-a-half-minute featurette has footage of Swift striking crouching feline moves as well [...]

  • CGR’s Immersive Premium Format Set for

    Immersive Theater Technology Set for US Debut in Los Angeles

    French multiplex company CGR Cinemas has selected the Regal LA Live as the first U.S. theater to use its Immersive Cinema Experience technology. The ICE format will be unveiled in the fall at the downtown location in a partnership between CGR and AEG. The companies made the announcement Wednesday but did not reveal which title [...]

  • Amazon Developing Original Series Based on

    Amazon Studios Buys 'Selah and the Spades,' Will Develop Original Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has acquired worldwide rights to “Selah and the Spades,” a gripping look at a prep school drug dealer, Variety has learned. The film marks the feature debut of writer and director Tayarisha Poe and had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was a favorite with critics. Amazon has [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content