BREAKING… EXCLUSIVE: This follows IATSE and AMPTP resuming negotiations Thursday for a new Hollywood Basic Agreement. Multiple sources are telling me that “there is an agreement in principle as of last night”. There’s been no announcement as of yet. This news is surprising since there’d been an impasse in the bargaining with sources telling me that both sides had taken hardline positions as recently as the end of March. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) even made an announcement on March 27th that they needed “additional time to review data before resuming talks”. But those talks resumed yesterday and the breakthrough came last night. The IATSE represents members employed in the stagecraft, motion picture and television production, and trade show industries throughout the United States, its Territories, and Canada.
I’ve learned these negotiations were the most intense and tempestuous since IATSE chief Matt Loeb decided to chart a more aggressive posture against the Big Media companies than his more compliant predecessor Tom Short. “When IATSE came to the table, it came with the expectation that an agreement bridging healthcare costs would be a difficult and lengthy process. It also came with the goal of achieving real gains for our members in wages, terms & working conditions,” a source details. “However, the AMPTP came to the table with quite an opposite set of ideas — ideas that the IATSE leadership felt were completely unwarranted given the healthy and prosperous state of our industry.”
Usually, the AMPTP’s strategy in its labor bargaining is to pressure the other side to take terms off the table, thus forcing labor to negotiate against itself. But I’ve learned that the AMPTP in late March withdrew a majority of its original 34-page proposal, including those that called for complete cross-utilization between locals, and complete interchangeability within locals. My sources tell me Local 728 in particular argued passionately against these proposals, citing major concerns with safety issues, likely increases in liability and injury claims, plus a need for specialized safety-training programs, as reasons why these terms were unworkable, expensive, and dangerous.
Both sides still remained far apart on the remaining issues of wages, terms, working conditions, health care funding and pension benefits. Talks were intense — so intense that they continued even during a weekend power outage that hit AMPTP headquarters for 2 1/2 hours on March 25th despite darkened rooms and no air conditioning. Finally an impasse was called “due to the wide chasm existing between the two sides”, one source tells me. I’ve learned that it was IATSE who walked away from the early negotiations. In fact Loeb vowed not to return until June 1st when mandated by law. I’m trying to get details of the deal now in place. But it’s inevitable it will contain unpopular provisions, especially regarding health benefits and payments.