As tension mounts over the contract dispute between IATSE and Hollywood studios, the COVID-19 safety protocols agreed to between the studios and guilds remains in place for now…but would be nullified if the below-the-line workers’ union moves forward with a strike.
Labor and studio sources tell TheWrap that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios in labor talks, quietly agreed with guilds weeks ago to extend the COVID safety protocols that have governed film and TV shoots over the past year through October 30. Bargaining agreement talks between AMPTP and IATSE had previously been delayed to allow AMPTP to revise the protocols with all guilds amidst the Delta variant surge; and the two sides agreed to table another round of revisions for a month to allow the IATSE talks to move forward.
But last week, IATSE announced that it would hold a strike authorization vote on Oct. 1-3 after talks on the Hollywood Basic Agreement and the Area Standards Agreement stalled. The Hollywood agreement oversees productions worked on by the 13 West Coast IATSE locals, while the Area Standards agreement covers productions nationwide.
A strike authorization vote would not necessarily mean a strike is taking place, as at least one more round of talks is expected between AMPTP and IATSE. But if a strike is ordered, the COVID-19 protocol would be nullified for hundreds of film and TV shoots as it applies to any production working under a bargaining agreement negotiated by the guilds who developed the protocols. The one major exception would be productions for pay TV networks like HBO, as those networks have their own separate bargaining agreement with IATSE. COVID-19 protocols for other projects like commercials and music videos would also remain in effect.
In July, the guilds and studios modified the protocols to allow producers to require cast and crew working in “Zone A,” the area of a set where filming directly takes place, to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to work on those shoots. The mandate could be implemented on a production-by-production basis on the condition that workers are notified with enough advance notice to receive the vaccine and develop immunity to the virus.