IATSE president Matthew Loeb urged below-the-line workers one more time to approve the contract negotiated with Hollywood studios as voting is set to begin Friday in a letter sent to union members.
The letter echoed many of the points sent by national and local IATSE leaders over the past month, praising members for nearly unanimously approving a strike authorization that they say broke the impasse with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios in labor talks.
“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,” Loeb wrote. ” 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,” Loeb added. “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.”
Tens of thousands of IATSE members in 36 locals are set to vote on the Hollywood Basic Agreement and Area Standards Agreement, which combined oversee wage and working condition standards for film and television productions across the United States and Canada. The voting will take place Nov. 12-14, with results being published on Nov. 15.
In the month between IATSE and AMPTP reaching a deal just before the union’s imposed strike deadline and this contract vote, thousands of members have voiced their displeasure with the contract, saying it does not go far enough to ensure rest times or safe working conditions on set. Several grassroots groups have organized on social media, conducting surveys and holding town halls to compile a list of demands that they wish for negotiators to address should the contract be rejected.
If either the Basic or Area Standard Agreements are rejected, it would be up to the AMPTP to agree to sit down again with IATSE for a new deal. If they refuse, IATSE could choose to strike on the rejected contract.
Read the full letter from Loeb below
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
MATTHEW D. LOEB