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IATSE Begins Negotiations on Hollywood Basic Agreement With Studios

The International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) announced on Thursday evening that it has begun negotiations with studios on the Hollywood Basic Agreement, the labor contract that covers the union’s 13 West Coast locals and more than 50,000 entertainment crew workers.

The negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) began on Tuesday with the two sides exchanging initial proposals, according to a memo released by IATSE on Thursday.

IATSE says its proposal includes “measures to enhance contract enforcement, economic proposals to offset or exceed increased cost of living, and working conditions proposals that extend reasonable rest and drastically increase penalties for overworking, to name a few.”

Negotiations continued on Thursday, with particular focus placed on IATSE’s proposals regarding artificial intelligence. The union says its proposals aim to “protect behind-the-scenes workers’ jobs and creative works, data/privacy, and their safety from emerging technologies regardless of the form the tech may take going forward.”

Talks have adjourned for the week, and a resumption date has not been set. IATSE advised members that direct negotiations with the AMPTP are not expected to resume until March 18 at the earliest, as the two sides are expected to meet amongst themselves next week to prepare for the next round of talks.

When direct talks resume, AMPTP is expected to meet directly with officials from each of the 13 West Coast IATSE locals that operate under the Hollywood Basic Agreement to discuss craft-specific issues related to the contract. Talks have yet to begin on the Area Standards Agreement, which covers IATSE locals in other parts of the United States and Canada.

IATSE initiated talks on the Hollywood Bargaining Agreement after it met with the AMPTP alongside Teamsters Local 399 and the Hollywood Basic Crafts on Monday to present the unions’ proposal on the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan, which covers health and retirement benefits for all of the entertainment industry’s below-the-line unions. The unions are awaiting the first counterproposal from the AMPTP on the health plan.

“In the coming weeks, we will continue to discuss the specifics of these proposals and provide periodic updates on our exchanges. In the meantime, our work continues,” IATSE VP Mike Miller said in a statement.

IATSE hosted an inter-union rally at Woodley Park on Sunday ahead of the start of negotiations, with IATSE president Matthew D. Loeb calling on the studios to agree to a contract that shapes the entertainment industry in a way that treats AI as a tool to enhance and streamline the work of his union’s members, rather than render them obsolete.

“Those advantages need to take the pressure off our jobs, so we can enjoy our families and live these lives, and not have to work 80-hour weeks,” Loeb said. “If that efficiency comes, it needs to come to us and our jobs. And we will use that to do our jobs better. But we want some of the spoils of artificial intelligence.”

IATSE’s Hollywood Basic and Area Standards Agreements both expire on July 31, as do the contracts for Teamsters 399. Both unions have publicly stated that they will not agree to an extension of their current contracts and have not ruled out the possibility of a strike if a deal is not reached by the end of July.

“We are not afraid to strike,” Sean O’Brien, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said at the IATSE rally. “If these greedy corporations — whether it’s Amazon, Netflix, Sony … Disney — if they choose not to reward our members, they are putting themselves on strike. We will put them on their back, on their knees, begging for mercy.”

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