Film Crew Guild hardly agrees to contract with producers
Angels Film industry staff members voted narrowly to agree to two contracts with Hollywood producers after a standoff that came within days of a strike that would have frozen production across the United States, union leaders said Monday.
Agreements passed from 56% to 44% among delegates from 36 local federations of the International Alliance of Theater and Theater Staff in a voting system similar to the US Electoral College.
But in the popular vote, 50.3% answered yes and 49.7% no among the nearly 45,000 members who cast their ballots in the vote, which took place from Friday to Sunday.
The small overall percentage stood in contrast to the recent vote by union members, in which 98% agreed to give union leaders the power to call a strike.
A successful ‘No’ vote would reopen negotiations and bring back the possibility of a strike.
Joy and relief prevailed among many of the members when a three-year agreement was reached with the producers on October 16, two days before the strike deadline.
But many others were disappointed with the details, saying the contracts did not go far enough to address issues such as long workdays that may lack breaks or lunches, and the fatigue that this causes.
Veteran theater operator Jason Fitzgerald said in an email after the results were announced that he was “disappointed. Disgusted. Sold by leadership. Not surprised.”
The vote took place in light of the shooting that killed cinematographer Helena Hutchins and injured director Joel Sousa on the set of “Rust” in New Mexico.
Alec Baldwin, the movie’s star producer who shot, called it a “one in a trillion event,” but many felt the accident was emblematic of critical and serious flaws in the industry.
According to the union, key issues related to safety and economics are being addressed in proposed agreements involving those working in film and television production.
“Our goal was to achieve fair contracts that work for IATSE members in television and film – which addresses issues of quality of life and working conditions such as rest and meal breaks,” said Matthew Loeb, president of IATSE International, in a statement. “We have achieved our goals for this round of bargaining and have built a solid foundation for future agreements.”
Union leaders said the agreements include sweeping wage increases and increased compensation paid by streaming services, who have long been allowed lower pay rates.
The Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance, which represents Hollywood studios and other production entities, said in a statement that “throughout the negotiations, IATSE’s leadership has advocated changes to improve quality of life” and “the agreements purposefully reflect the industry’s endorsement of those priorities and keeping everyone engaged.”
IATSE represents about 150,000 behind-the-scenes workers, including theater workers, cinematographers, fashion workers and others working in all forms of entertainment, from film and television to theater, concerts, trade shows and radio broadcasts.
The two contracts include about 63,000 union members. One mainly covers film and television production on the West Coast and applies to about two-thirds of these members; The other is for production centers, including New Mexico and Georgia.
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