IATSE Chief Urges Members to Ratify Contract That Brings ‘Meaningful Improvements on All Priorities’

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IATSE International chief Matthew Loeb is urging members to vote to approve the master film and TV contract that was reached last month after down-to-the-wire negotiations and a strike authorization vote.

In a lengthy message to members sent Thursday, the day before voting begins, Loeb asserted that the hard-fought deal includes “meaningful improvements on all of our priorities.” He noted the difficult road to reaching an agreement on economic issues as well as progress in working conditions, limited long hours, ensuring 10 hours of turnaround time and dedicated weekends, among other measures.

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“The dynamics of these negotiations were like none other, taking place during a global pandemic, through a remote-meeting platform, after an unprecedented industry shut-down (which affected the lives of virtually everyone),” Loeb wrote.

“Nonetheless, the proposals we took to the negotiating table focused upon bread-and-butter issues—essential issues for the motion picture and television industries’ workers. We negotiated for the necessary components that you need to carry out your jobs: rest at the end of a day and on the weekend; meal breaks during the day; leave if you get sick; living wages; secure health and retirement benefits; and improved wages and working conditions on streaming productions. The IATSE has led other entertainment industry unions and guilds by adding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday in its contract—an accomplishment that we hope will be recognized by the entire industry,” he wrote.

The online vote to ratify the three-year pact ends Monday.

Here is Loeb’s complete message:

Dear Brothers, Sisters and Kin,

You have recently been provided with information related to the renegotiation of the Producer-IATSE Basic Agreement. You now have the opportunity to vote on the new terms of your contract. I recommend you carefully review the information on the new agreement and vote in favor of its ratification.

Throughout these difficult negotiations, we remained steadfast and resolved in our determination to achieve a contract that is fair and works for the members. Broadly, our proposals focused on improving working conditions and rates of pay generally, with a particular emphasis on streaming productions, and on maintaining existing health and retirement benefits. Quality of life issues, conditions on the job like rest and breaks, and diversity and inclusion measures were among the priorities upon which we remained focused.

When negotiations broke off in September, the bargaining parties were far apart and there was no agreement on our priority issues. The employers refused to respond to our proposals. I invoked the International Constitution and called for a nationwide strike authorization vote under the Basic and the Area Standards Agreements—the first time that had ever occurred under these contracts. Calling for a national strike underscored the seriousness of these negotiations and the fight we were ready to take on until we secured the conditions you deemed essential.

The confidence you placed in me and in your collective bargaining representatives was proven by the 90% turnout of eligible voters and the 98% “yes” vote authorizing a strike if necessary. The groundbreaking strike authorization vote was vital to achieving success in the priority areas you had identified for us. We got the producers’ attention and they immediately returned to the bargaining table with meaningful improvements on all of our priorities for the first time.

The dynamics of these negotiations were like none other, taking place during a global pandemic, through a remote-meeting platform, after an unprecedented industry shut-down (which affected the lives of virtually everyone). Nonetheless, the proposals we took to the negotiating table focused upon bread-and-butter issues—essential issues for the motion picture and television industries’ workers. We negotiated for the necessary components that you need to carry out your jobs: rest at the end of a day and on the weekend; meal breaks during the day; leave if you get sick; living wages; secure health and retirement benefits; and improved wages and working conditions on streaming productions. The IATSE has led other entertainment industry unions and guilds by adding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday in its contract—an accomplishment that we hope will be recognized by the entire industry.

We succeeded in reaching our objectives but make no mistake, this would never have been possible without the overwhelming showing of support demonstrated by the strike authorization vote. We showed our power and it worked.

Without you, this groundbreaking contract would not have been possible. I encourage you to vote YES.

IN SOLIDARITY,

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