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Music Supervisors Seek Unionization With IATSE

Below-the-line union says that 75% of music supervisors signed unionization cards

The new Hollywood labor movement seeks to unionize music supervisors, those responsible for negotiating the licensing rights for pre-recorded music for use in a film and TV projects.

On Monday, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) which represents most below-the-line entertainment workers announced that 75% of music supervisors have signed cards to join the union.

For music supervisors, the move is overdue recognition for their role in shaping a project’s soundtrack, from the famous use of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” in “Shaun of the Dead” to the various classic rock songs used in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films.

This past week, a worker-run Twitter page titled “Music Needs Supervision” launched, calling on the music community to rally behind their unionization efforts as the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Hollywood studios, “refused our ask to grant equal rights.” The Twitter page and other music supervisors have begun a social media movement to raise awareness

On Monday, IATSE in its own release on its website said that the AMPTP “indicated they will not voluntarily recognize” the music supervisors union. AMPTP did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment.

Some of the demands listed by IATSE for its potentially newest local echo those that were demanded by other IATSE locals in recent talks with AMPTP, most notably higher and standardized wages. But others are the sort of benefits like health and pension funds that, unlike their unionized colleagues in Hollywood, music supervisors currently do not have. Unionizing with IATSE would also give music supervisors a labor resource to contact in case they experience discrimination, pay disparity or other workplace issues.

“Imagine the music supervisor who nailed the perfect sync isn’t treated equally with all other creative filmmakers: no pension,fair pay, no hour caps,” tweeted music supervisor Andy Ross, whose credits include Damien Chazelle’s Oscar-winning film “Whiplash.” “Please stand with Music Supervisors as we fight to unionize our craft.”

“Every worker deserves to have rights and a voice in the workplace, regardless of how your employer values your work. The workers have spoken, and the AMPTP should respect its workers and democracy by voluntarily recognizing Music Supervisors’ union immediately,” said IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb in a statement.

This union push is set to become the latest chapter in the labor push-and-pull between IATSE and AMPTP. After avoiding a strike by the narrowest of margins last year after IATSE members barely approved new basic agreements for film and television productions nationwide, AMPTP last month reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with IATSE Local 839, also known as The Animation Guild. Workers in animation are set to vote on whether to ratify that contract later this month.

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