The high-stakes negotiations between the studios and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees will continue on Saturday, as the two sides continue to talk on a range of issues.
The union is seeking movement on its key priorities — including long hours and streaming pay scales — but has advised that it will not let the talks drag on indefinitely.
“It’s a matter of days, not weeks,” International President Matthew Loeb said in a statement on Friday night.
The 13 Basic Agreement locals also issued a statement, emphasizing the urgency of getting an agreement. “While we remain committed to the bargaining process, there will come a point where words must be replaced by action.”
The two sides wrapped up their fourth day of bargaining on Friday, following the announcement on Monday that 99% of the voting membership had approved a strike authorization if the talks cannot produce a deal.
“We are committed to doing what it takes,” said one union official. “We are committed to getting to a deal. We need them to address our core priorities. We’re not going to be baited into dragging this out for weeks and weeks. We need to see significant movement.”
The negotiations have continued under a media blackout, though a few details emerged on Thursday. A union official reported that the AMPTP had agreed to provide 10-hour “turnarounds” between shifts for all workers on all types of productions, which had been one of the key objectives of the IATSE negotiators. But some of the members — many of whom already have 10-hour turnarounds — did not think that was enough.
“If that’s what we win, it doesn’t feel like a victory,” said Daniel Remillard, an electrician who works with Local 480 in New Mexico. “As long as I’ve been in this union, our leadership is weak. They consistently cave to production and the spirit of keeping people working and keeping things going. And for a long time I’ve felt we need to plant our feet and ask for more because we deserve more… The things we’re negotiating for this round are bare minimum.”
Lee Sablick, a member of the grips union, Local 80, also said that 10-hour turnarounds were “still crap.” A 10-hour turnaround would still mean that crews could work 14-hour days. Some members have advocated for 12 hours between shifts, which would result in 12-hour days, though the union has not advocated for that in the negotiations. Crew members have emphasized the strain that long hours puts on their health and safety.
“There’s been times when I was so exhausted they thought I was having a heart attack,” Sablick said, adding that he has sometimes had to try not to fall asleep on the drive home. “There’s been so many times I’ve had to stick my head out the window screaming just to stay awake. There’s times when I’ve had to pull over to get a quick half hour of sleep.”
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was also said to be willing to address weekend rest, which would be the first time that the IATSE Basic Agreement contained such a provision. The unions told members to discount what they read in the press, and wait for the full terms to become available.