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IATSE, Producers Postpone Contract Talks Until August to Prioritize Covid Protocols


IATSEIf you remember, talks between the IATSE and American Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke off in mid-June with plans to resume in July. IATSE had been looking for a “more humane and equitable workplace” with many issues that needed to be resolved including the matter of streaming residuals.

Both parties have now agreed to push the talks back until August to allow the month of July to be used for negotiations between the unions and AMPTP in order to come up with revised COVID-19 return-to-work safety rules.

Bargaining for a new IATSE contract was scheduled to resume on Tuesday, July 6, after the Independence Day holiday, but that’s now been rescheduled for August 17, even though the current contract expires on July 31. Any new contract would be retroactive to that date.

By comparison, the return-to-work protocols set last September expired on June 30 and was only recently “extended indefinitely” in order to allow the AMPTP to sit down with the various production unions, including IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, the Teamsters, as well as Basic Crafts, in order to discuss and negotiate much-needed COVID-19 safety agreement modifications. The current agreement will remain in place until that new agreement is reached.

IATSE has agreed to postpone its own new contract negotiations in order to allow those important COVID protocols to be discussed.

IATSE members were notified via Email earlier today, “As you know, we are continuing conversations on the return-to-work agreement. Our goal is to keep the safest working conditions and ensure the well-being of our members and their families. With the growing spread of the Covid Delta variant, affecting even those who are fully vaccinated, we are holding firm with our return-to-work conditions, and we do not want to compromise on our positions. The IATSE, DGA, SAG-AFTRA, Teamsters, and the Basic Crafts will be resuming return-to-work negotiations next week.

“As a result, Basic Agreement negotiations will be postponed from next week until August. Since we will be extended beyond the contract, we will be negotiating retroactive pay when we ratify; including retroactive benefits. All will be covered under a workable time frame for the extension. We have tentatively agreed to resume negotiations on August 17. In the meantime, we want to encourage you to keep yourself informed and engaged. We will update you as we continue to get more information.”

The leaders of the Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600) also informed their members of this decision:

“Due to the immediate need to conclude negotiations for a further extension of the Return to Work (RTW) Protocols, the IATSE and the AMPTP have mutually agreed to extend the Basic Agreement and resume negotiations in August, rather than on July 6 as planned. The specific terms of the extension of the Basic agreement are being worked out as we speak. We have tentatively agreed to resume bargaining on Tuesday, August 17.

As did the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG): “The ongoing negotiations over the RTW Protocols, which involve all of the Guilds and Unions, are now scheduled to continue next week. The RTW discussions must be concluded first, as that agreement expired on June 30, and the evolution of the Covid crisis requires careful consideration in order to keep our industry thriving and our members healthy. We cannot place enough emphasis on the safety and security of our members and their families. The multi-union coalition, consisting of the IATSE, DGA, SAG-AFTRA, Teamsters, and the Basic Crafts, is unified in its determination to take the time necessary to get this right, and all have agreed to resume the RTW negotiations next week.

“Meanwhile, Local 600 will continue to use this time to talk to members, build support and capacity around our key issues and work in solidarity with the other locals to move our shared agenda forward. We urge our bargaining partners at the studios to make good use of the next six weeks to reflect on our proposals and come to the simple conclusion that fair wages that recognize the value our members bring, well-funded and sustainable benefits for our members and their families, and working conditions that promote safety and health, including meal breaks and rest periods – are both reasonable and long overdue. The craftspeople who make up the foundation of this industry deserve nothing less. Local 600 remains committed to achieving these goals.”

The delayed contract talks cover IATSE’s 13 production locals in Hollywood, including three with national jurisdictions: the Cinematographers Guild, the Editors Guild Local 700 and the Art Directors Guild Local 800.

In a recent joint statement, leaders of the 13 locals said that they “stand together in our fight for sustainable pension and health benefits, reasonable rest, improved working conditions, and livable wages. These basic worker rights are the cornerstone of the labor movement, and we all are committed to fighting for them in order to create a more humane and equitable workplace.”

On June 15 after the original negotiations faltered, the 13 local leaders said in a joint statement: “We continue to be told that the industry cannot change the way it does business. What we have learned over the last year is that our industry can put the economic welfare, health, and safety of workers first and continue to thrive. We stand in solidarity and remain committed to protecting the health and security of our members and their families.”

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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