IATSE, producers reach deal on contract that covers North Carolina film workers

A sign declaring “FILM PAYS MY BILLS” is displayed in the window of a downtown Wilmington storefront. (Port City Daily photo/Williams)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced Tuesday it shook hands with the representatives of major film companies on a tentative deal that covers North Carolina behind-the-scenes workers and others across the U.S.

The proposed three-year Area Standards Agreement (ASA) is said to increase wages, penalize productions for skipping meal breaks and guarantee workers sufficient rest between shoots, according to IATSE. Union members will need to vote to ratify the revised contract before it takes effect.

Earlier this month, the film workers union called off a threatened nationwide strike after finalizing terms on its Basic Agreement, which only satisfies workers along the West Coast. Previously, the IATSE members had voted overwhelmingly on a strike authorization following stalled negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the trade group bargaining for TV and movie companies like Warner Bros. and Netflix. The union was demanding improved work conditions and wages in their next contracts, which were up for renewal.


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The Basic Agreement negotiations were prioritized and dealt with before the ASA. Now that negotiations for the subsequent contract have wrapped, attorneys can begin penning the final language. Once prepared, the members will review the documents and vote on whether to ratify the contracts.

In a press release, IATSE indicated the three-year agreement for the areas outside of Hollywood is similar to the proposed Basic contract for those within Hollywood. Workers would receive greater chances of meal breaks and prolonged rest periods, according to the release, and the lowest earners would get a 60% raise. Across the board, members would receive at least a 9% increase in pay over the next three years. Plus, the release states streaming services would significantly improve compensation under the new terms.

“We were able to achieve gains in all of our core areas,” IATSE International President Matthew Loeb said.  “Quality of life issues were at the top of our priority list. The protective terms we negotiated in this agreement and the agreement reached earlier establish a defined weekend with the studios for the first time. The two agreements incorporate stiff penalties for failing to provide meals and breaks. Taken together, the improvements we made at the bargaining table are very significant and directly due to the solidarity of our members.”

Loeb added that the union has attempted to secure some of these terms for decades.

Local union leaders are expected to brief members on the complete details and language of the tentative agreement in the coming weeks, according to the release. In an interview last week, Darla McGlamery, business agent at Local 491, said the Wilmington-based office intends to host a “town hall” to answer questions and hear concerns after members spend a few days reviewing the proposed contract.

This is the first time in the union’s history that members under the ASA have had a say in finalizing the contract. Around 60,000 workers under the Basic and ASA agreements will cast ballots concurrently through an online system, though a date for that vote has not been set.

In recent weeks, slow emerging details of the West Coast contract have been met with some resistance from film workers, who have expressed on social media that the deal doesn’t go far enough to improve the quality of life for those on sets.

If the union members vote to not ratify one of the contracts, negotiators will return to the table. Restarting the process without success could lead to an eventual work stoppage down the line, which would cease productions nationally.


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