This is either going to be good news or bad news, depending on how you feel about the “return-to-work” protocols that were signed between the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) with the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the Teamsters and the Basic Crafts back in September.
Maybe you’ve already been fully vaccinated, and you want to be able to go back to working on set without being tested every day or wearing an obstructive face shield or having to social distance from everyone, including others who have been vaccinated, whatever.
Those protocols were set to expire on April 30 but then they were extended until June 30, which was yesterday. A new agreement hasn’t been reached yet between the respective parties, so the protocols have been extended indefinitely until an agreement can be reached. Obviously, the situation has changed albeit slightly since September with so much of the country being vaccinated and COVID positivity in testing being down, but everyone else wants to remain safe and not have any of the production shutdowns that have been so debilitating to the world of production.
In a joint statement, labor and management said that the “current agreement will remain in effect during the interim period” in order to “give them necessary time to negotiate Covid-19 safety agreement modifications,” which could take months.
On top of that, IATSE released the following statement about the negotiations for a new agreement, “The Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Basic Crafts, and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), together with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) today announced that negotiations will continue regarding adjustments to their Covid-19 Safety Agreement. The current Agreement, which was previously scheduled to expire today, June 30, will remain in place until a new Agreement is reached.”
All of the provisions of the current aggrement remain intact through the extension, including strictly enforced testing regimens, physical distancing, Covid-19 compliance officers, diligent use of personal protective equipment and a “Zone” system to ensure that different sections of the production are tightly controlled based on proximity to cast, who often can’t wear masks or maintain social distancing while working. These protocols have made film sets among the safest places to work in America during the pandemic.
So far, Covid-19 vaccinations have not been required for cast and crew as a condition of employment, although SAG-AFTRA has established guidelines in the event they do become mandatory. SAG-AFTRA’s national board of directors, meeting last Thursday, voted 75%-25% in favor of approving a motion that authorizes the union’s staff “to approve requests for mandatory vaccination policies in strict compliance with SAG-AFTRA’s standard parameters for mandatory vaccination policies.”