IATSE and Studios Reach Tentative Area Standards Agreement Deal

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The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and studios have agreed to a new tentative three-year Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Area Standards Agreement deal following the Oct. 16 tentative agreement reached for workers covered under the union’s Basic Agreement that averted a major strike.

The deal, which would need to be ratified by IATSE members before going into effect, generally covers 20,000 members working outside the New York and Los Angeles areas. The union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents film and television studios and streamers in collective bargaining with industry guilds, confirmed the news Tuesday.

Amid stalled contract talks, IATSE members covered under the Area Standards Agreement voted earlier in October to authorize a strike, should IATSE international president Matthew Loeb decide to call one. IATSE announced that the threatened strike had been averted when it reached its Oct. 16 Basic Agreement deal covering 13 West Coast Locals and around 40,000 members, with Area Standards Agreement negotiations still ongoing.

According to the union, key gains in the tentative Area Standards Agreement — like those in the Basic Agreement — include low-wage IATSE members seeing a boost of up to 60 percent in hourly minimum wages, members receiving a minimum of a 9 percent scale wage increase by the end of the three-year contract, changes to rest periods and meal breaks, and improved compensation from streaming services. No more specifics were provided by press time.

“We were able to achieve gains in all of our core areas,” Loeb said in a statement. “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.”

Within the next few weeks, members should be receiving a memorandum of agreement that will fill them in on the fine print of the Basic Agreement and Area Standards Agreement tentative deals. The ratification votes for the Area Standards Agreement and Basic Agreement will occur simultaneously online, the union has said.

The Area Standards Agreement tends to mirror some key points in the Basic Agreement per pattern bargaining, and members of the West Coast Locals covered under the Basic Agreement are still receiving details of that deal. So far, member response to the Basic Agreement has been mixed, with some members arguing that the deal should have included longer turnaround times and higher annual scale wage increases, among other improvements, after five months of unprecedented member mobilization. Others say that they’re waiting for the full details of the agreement to render a judgment.

IATSE bargains on behalf of a wide swath of crewmembers, from cinematographers to makeup artists to gaffers to writers assistants. Over the course of the union’s 2021 negotiations with the AMPTP, where members authorized the union’s first nationwide strike in its 128-year history, IATSE members have grown increasingly vocal about poor work conditions on social media and in the press as the industry rushes to make up for COVID-related production work stoppages.

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