SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Film crew workers will not strike after solidifying their labor contracts with productions in a near-split national ratification vote.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has ratified two three-year contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The revised agreements grant across-the-board raises, meal penalties to dissuade productions from working through lunches, mandatory 10-hour breaks between shifts, and 54-hour rest periods on the weekends.
“From start to finish, from preparation to ratification, this has been a democratic process to win the very best contracts,” IATSE International President Matthew Loeb stated in a press release. “The vigorous debate, high turnout, and close election, indicates we have an unprecedented movement-building opportunity to educate members on our collective bargaining process and drive more participation in our union long-term.”
The terms of the renegotiated agreements were met with some pushback from members who felt the deals didn’t go far enough to improve labor conditions and protect workers, but ultimately both passed by slim margins. The Basic Agreement covers union members along the West coast, while workers of the Carolinas and the rest of the country fall under the Area Standards Agreement.
Through an electoral college-style system, votes panned out to be 359-282 — or 56% to 44%. There are a total of 641 delegates across the 36 local offices.
The popular vote even further reflects the hesitancy to adopt the contract, with 52% of members in the non-LA unions voting for approval and 48% rejecting the deal. Among the 23 unions under the Area Standards agreement, 14 locals sent in yeses and nine contributed nos.
The popular vote for the Hollywood unions resulted in 49.6% yes and 50.4% no, yet only five locals turned down the deal and eight casted yeses.
Voter turnout was high but not on the same level as the strike authorization vote in October, which had close to 99% of union members participating. Seventy-two percent of the 63,209 eligible union members cast ballots this time around.
“Our goal was to achieve fair contracts that work for IATSE members in television and film—that address quality-of-life issues and conditions on the job like rest and meal breaks,” Loeb continued in the release. “We met our objectives for this round of bargaining and built a strong foundation for future agreements.”
Negotiations for the contracts kicked off in May but hit a standstill in September. In October, after the strike authorization vote passed overwhelmingly, a strike deadline was set and members created picket signs. With the threat looming, both parties returned to the table to resume bargaining. The first of the two tentative agreements was reached Oct. 16, and the strike was called off.
A strike would be a serious detriment to the film scene across the country and in Wilmington, at a time when the industry is peaking. This year productions are expected to spend $300 to $350 million locally, a record-breaking economic impact that is greater than the past four years combined. The tally is up from $70 million in 2020, $129 million in 2019 and $34 million in 2018.
AMPTP issued the following statement: “We congratulate IATSE President, Matt Loeb, the IATSE Bargaining Committee and Board for their leadership in achieving ratification of the new contracts. Throughout the negotiations, IATSE leadership advocated changes to improved quality of life for those they represent. These agreements meaningfully reflect the industry’s endorsement of those priorities and keep everyone working.”