IATSE Extends Contract Talks Again With AMPTP

Wages remain a major sticking point for the below-the-line workers’ union as talks hit the three-month mark

iatse international president Matthew D. Loeb Oscars
IATSE president Matt Loeb (Courtesy of IATSE)

IATSE has once again extended talks with Hollywood studios for its next labor contracts after negotiations ended on Wednesday without a deal.

While exact dates were not announced, the below-the-line union says talks on the Hollywood Basic Agreement could resume as early as next week. Negotiators for the Area Standards Agreement, which covers productions outside of Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, are also set to resume talks later in June.

While the current IATSE contract does not expire until July 31, the AMPTP had been scheduled to begin negotiations with Teamsters Local 399 on its contract next week. Sources with knowledge of the talks say that the AMPTP is weighing whether to simultaneously negotiate with IATSE and Teamsters, or to resume talks with IATSE later in June while focusing next week on Teamsters.

Both IATSE and Teamsters 399 have said publicly and in talks with the AMPTP that they will not agree to any contract extensions, with the current Teamsters contract also expiring at the end of July.

“I want to thank the Basic Negotiating Committee and our union allies for their strength, solidarity and insight throughout this process,” IATSE president Matthew D. Loeb said. “I remain hopeful that our work will result in a tentative agreement that members will want to ratify.”

IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios in labor talks, have been in negotiations for nearly three months now. As part of the talks, negotiating committees from the locals under the umbrella of the below-the-line entertainment workers’ union spoke with the AMPTP about issues specific to various crafts — from editors to production designers.

In late May, AMPTP also negotiated with IATSE locals that work under the jurisdiction of the ASA. The 13 locals that work on productions in the above four cities operate under the Hollywood Basic Agreement, which IATSE has spent several days of extended talks this week negotiating.

While there has been much optimism about the progress of talks, insiders with knowledge of negotiations told TheWrap that the issue of wage increases remains a significant sticking point in recent weeks among other open items, with talks extending into the early hours of Thursday morning.

IATSE workers who have spoken to TheWrap say that the rising cost of living in Los Angeles combined with the depletion of financial reserves due to being unable to work during the 191-day strike, has made a significant increase in wages a vital element of the new contract. The union also seeks a 401(k) to supplement the health and pension plans of its members, as the funds for those plans are expected to be depleted as they are funded by employer contributions based on the amount of productions that are held by a studio, an amount that plummeted due to the strikes.

Another major issue during talks is artificial intelligence, as the nascent technology has the potential to upend a significant portion of the jobs covered by IATSE, since algorithms can potentially edit hundreds of hours of footage, mix sound, or generate costumes and set designs, for example.

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