Will IATSE Members accept the settlement?
The union offices of The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 80, in Burbank, Calif. | Chris Pizzello / AP

LOS ANGELES — It’s been a challenging, intense, and nerve-racking past four months as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) negotiated and reached a new agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The powerful AMPTP forcefully pushed back hard against any new proposals that would take away their control and financial incentives. IATSE was seeking to make inroads coming out of the pandemic as partners in the new era and future of the TV and film industry.

On the day before the strike deadline, on Saturday evening Oct. 16, the parties reached an agreement. This tentative agreement now needs to be voted on and ratified by the membership, if it is to be approved.

Ratification of the contract by the membership will undoubtedly take some time. According to the IATSE’s voting process, an electoral college-style system is used. Delegates from each local are selected. Delegate numbers are based on the local’s size. The delegates will cast a ballot in which the winner takes all the results (Yes or No).

Thirteen West Coast locals will vote to ratify the new agreement (Hollywood Basic Agreement). Another 23 locals will vote on the Area Standards Agreement. Negotiations are ongoing, as of October 18, for workers under the Area Standards Agreement. It is expected that this agreement will be consistent with the terms outlined in the Basic Agreement.

The tentative agreement includes a new three-year contract between IATSE and AMPTP, improved wages and working conditions for streaming, retroactive scale wage increases of 3% annually, daily rest periods of 10 hours without exclusions, increased meal period penalties including prevailing rate, weekend rest periods of 54 and 32 hours and employer-funded benefits for the term. In addition, the agreement called for expansion of sick leave benefits to the entire country, additional MPI (Motion Picture Industry pension and health plan) hours for on-call employees, 13th and 14th checks for pre-August 2009 retirees, the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday holiday, and diversity equality and inclusion initiatives.

Locals are planning membership meetings to discuss the agreement. In viewing the abbreviated summary release by the locals, many IATSE members have expressed frustration with the terms of the agreement. In a recent phone conference debriefing, some members felt that the union had the opportunity to make positive inroads in a grand way. Instead they gave in to what they considered as small steps. The union, they felt, didn’t use the momentum to get better terms.

Others are taking a wait-and-see attitude before the vote to see what other members are saying, what the union has to say about the contract, and waiting to review all the details that still need to come out. Discussions are ongoing.

The union will provide more details on the agreement, but has maintained that no local was left behind and every priority was addressed. It is expected that the union will encourage its membership to vote “Yes” on the new contract. The underlying concern is that a mixed reaction to the new contract is casting uncertainty on its approval. One Local 705 member said that negotiating a bare minimum is not enough. It changes nothing for the membership.

If the social media and initial meetings are an indication, the union leadership may have a tough time convincing the membership to approve the agreement. The question for the union leadership is how wide is the opposition?

Will IATSE members accept the agreement? The union is working out an electronic voting ratification process. A full Memorandum of Agreement will be available to the members. We will have to wait for the outcome of the vote.


David Trujillo
David Trujillo

David Trujillo is a member of the National Writers Union, a playwright, writer, and community activist. David Trujillo es miembro de la Unión Nacional de Escritores, dramaturgo, escritor y activista comunitario.