The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has set a date for a ratification vote for its new three-year contract. Voting will begin on Friday, Nov. 12, and the results will be announced on Nov. 15.
Voting will be conducted electronically, and the deadline for members to cast ballots is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 14.
The union leadership is urging 60,000 members to back the contract, which provides for a 54-hour weekend rest period and pay hikes for the lowest-paid workers. The leadership reached the deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Oct. 16, averting a nationwide film and TV production strike.
But many members have said they will vote no, because the contract does not do enough to address quality of life issues. In particular, they have objected that the deal provides only 10 hours off between shifts — which most workers already had under the previous agreement. They have also objected that the deal does not require streaming services to pay more residuals into the pension and health funds.
The voices of opposition have dominated the social media conversation about the agreement, though it’s unclear whether that reflects the views of the broader membership. If the union members reject the agreement, the bargaining would start over again, and it could lead to a strike.
To counter the opponents, union leaders are looking for members who are willing to publicly support the new contract in short videos and written testimonials, which will be distributed on its social media accounts. One of the 13 West Coast guilds sent a memo to some members encouraging them to provide a testimonial explaining “an aspect of the contract that you believe is worthy of members’ ‘YES’ votes,” “Why you think others should vote yes,” “How this contract builds upon what was established in previous contracts” and “How this contract moves us forward toward more gains in the future.”
In a memo to members last week, IATSE acknowledged the opposition, but argued that division at this stage will only serve the employers’ interests.
The union is seeking approval of two contracts: the Basic Agreement, which covers the 13 West Coast locals, and the Area Standards Agreement, which covers another 23 locals around the country. To be ratified, each contract must win a majority of union delegates, with the delegates’ votes determined by a majority vote within each local.