No Deal, Yet: Tensions Rise As IATSE & Studios Fail To Seal Basic Agreement Pact, More Talks Planned

Hollywood might be experiencing some labor déjà vu today as IATSE talks with the studios look certain to go down to the wire with just under two months before the union’s contracts expire.

The union announced Thursday that it had not yet reached a deal on the Basic Agreement nor the Area Standards Agreement, despite Wednesday being the last scheduled day of bargaining between IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

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More talks are scheduled for this month and could start as early as next week. For now, IATSE must step aside for Teamsters Local 399 to begin negotiations, but Deadline hears its possible that the unions may bargain simultaneously in an effort to get both deals done before their contracts expire on July 31.

IATSE has already made it clear it is uninterested in extending the contract past that deadline, and Deadline understands that the sentiment is the same among the Hollywood Basic Crafts.

In a memo to members Thursday, IATSE wrote that “negotiations have largely been productive, with the Basic Negotiating Committee and the studios reaching consensus on a number of issues.”

Representatives for the AMPTP did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment on the state of talks. If and when they do, we will update this post.

There are several economic issues that remain, sources tell Deadline. That includes both wage increases and benefits. More specifically, the below-the-line unions are seeking larger wage increases than they have agreed to in past contracts, as well as meaningful gains to the pension funds, which have taken several hits over the past few years as work has slowed down due to both the pandemic and historically long, dual strikes.

“The employers say they can’t afford the increases we are asking for, just like they always do,” a union insider says. “That’s the playbook, I get it, I think we’ll get to a deal, but the atmosphere is souring, if you ask me.”

Naturally, the inability to reach a deal raises questions about whether Hollywood might be facing the threat of another strike. Until now, the sentiment has remained largely hopeful that a deal is possible. That’s still the case, to some extent, but as talks have progressed, it’s becoming clearer that there is still a fairly large bridge to gap.

“Nobody’s happy with where we are at, but, that’s the nature of these kind of talks, especially in this environment,” a streamer executive close to the talks tells Deadline. “The union aren’t being realistic about what’s possible, how it could really impact their members.”

Both the studios and the unions are acutely aware of the economic impact another strike would have on an already strained industry. As the streamer executive put it, “A strike…isn’t going to solve or bridge the gulf.”

However, IATSE finds themselves in a particularly tough position, negotiating this contract in the middle of a contraction that has left many of its members unemployed.

But these talks also come on the heels of a 2021 agreement that received a heavy dose of backlash and was barely ratified by its members. Throughout bargaining, leadership has reminded members that they are committed to getting a deal “that members will want to ratify,” which is a key point as to why talks are going slower than expected.

The 2021 agreement was ultimately ratified by a razor-thin margin, and union sources have told Deadline they’re looking for a “bulletproof” contract to present to members this time around.

It’s worth noting that, although talks have remained largely positive, it appears no one expected them to be easy. Senior guild officials tell Deadline they expected the AMPTP to drive a hard bargain and wouldn’t be surprised if talks on all contracts to go down to the wire.

Teamsters Local 399 enter talks on Monday. Also still left to negotiate with the AMPTP are the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 40 (IBEW), Laborers International Union of North America Local 724 (LiUNA!), United Association Plumbers Local 78 (UA) and Operating Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association (OPCMIA) Local 755.

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