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Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700) Urging Members to Vote for Strike


MotionPictureEditorsGuildOver the past few days, responses and reactions have come in to the IATSE‘s Monday call to members to vote on October 1 on whether use a Strike Authorization in negotiations with the American Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). This call, in response to AMPTP refusal to respond to IATSE’s latest proposal, has received mostly positive reactions from all parts of the industry.

Now, one of IATSE’s three local labor unions with national jurisiction has come forward as Leaders of IATSE Local 700, the Motion Picture Editors Guild, are urging its members to vote “overwhelmingly” to authorize a strike against the film and television industry after negotiations broke down for a new Basic Agreement.

As we’ve mentioned before, a “strike authorization” does not necessarily mean there will be a strike, which would be unprecendented. It would just authorize and allow IATSE president Matthew Loeb to call a strike if he feels that is necessary for IATSE members to get the fair deal they’ve been requesting. If a strike happens, it would be IATSE’s first industrywide strike against film and television productions.

The Editors Guild is IATSE’s second largest local with 8,600 members, and three years ago, it was the only one of 13 West Coast studio locals that stood against ratifying the contract, mainly since it didn’t go far enough to address the industry’s brutally long workdays or funding the union’s ailing pension plan, which are major issues in the current negotiations.  IATSE also wants a new contract that addresses “unlivable wages for the lowest paid crafts,” and a new deal on New Media where workers on some streaming projects “get paid less, even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters.”

On Monday, AMPTP said taht it had “put forth a deal-closing comprehensive proposal that meaningfully addresses the IATSE’s key bargaining issues” and continued, “choosing to leave the bargaining table to seek a strike authorization vote, the IATSE leadership walked away from a generous comprehensive package.”

In an Email to members on Wednesday, the Editors Guild’s National Executive Director Cathy Repola and Guild President Alan Heim sent out an Email urging members to show “overwhelming support for this historic strike authorization vote”  with the guild exploring ways to provide financial relief in event oa strike.They also said that the guild is exploring ways to provide economic relief to members in the event of a strike.

You can read the exact wording of said Email below:

“As you probably know, we are moving forward with plans to take a strike authorization vote soon regarding the IATSE Basic Agreement negotiations

“At Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to recommend that Guild members vote yes in favor of a strike authorization vote. This is a historic moment for the rank-and-file members of the IATSE bargaining unit. It’s a time to stand together, to seek the changes in working conditions that all members so desperately deserve, and Local 700 continues to advocate to secure the long-term sustainability of the Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans.

“This isn’t about what any one Local wants or whether we will get ‘ours’ or ‘What’s in it for me?’ We know what it feels like for other locals to not stand with us, and we can demonstrate to all of our IA community what solidarity looks like. This isn’t just about the current negotiations; it is about future negotiations as well, and how we can successfully move forward as a union for generations to come.

“While we cannot predict the ultimate outcome of an eventual contract, it is imperative we achieve a significant number of members voting with overwhelming support for this historic strike authorization vote. Failure to achieve 75% majority is not an option.

“Also, the Board discussed the potential financial hardships the membership will face if we ultimately strike. We are deeply concerned, and that is why we did not take this decision at all lightly.

“In the coming days, we will be developing a plan to provide some economic relief as we research the most effective way to support our members. Ultimately, our efforts will depend on the duration of a strike and how many members will be impacted – both of which are impossible to predict right now. But we assure you, the Guild leadership intends to stand with you throughout this process. Your elected Board members are working members too, and, if it comes to that point, they will be joining you in making this sacrifice for the betterment of the future of this union.”

On October 1, all 13 West Coast studio locals will hold simultaneous secret ballot votes among their members. For any local to pass a strike authorization, at least 75% of those voting must vote “yes” in support of it, and as with the Basic Agreement contract ratification process, a local’s delegate votes will reflect the members’ votes. A local with 1,000 votes returned, for instance, would need 750 “Yes” votes in order to support the strike authorization. If the local does not reach that threshold, all of that local’s delegate votes would be counted as “No.” A simple majority of the delegate votes in the bargaining unit determines the outcome.

We will continue to report on this important news as more details and responses arise.

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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