Negotiations for a new IATSE film and TV contract have broken off, and bargaining isn’t expected to resume until the end of the month. That wouldn’t leave much time to reach a new agreement: The current contract, which covers some 43,000 West Coast behind-the-scenes workers, expires July 31.

Union reps walked out of the negotiations on Friday, frustrated over the lack of progress being made on their “key priorities.” It’s the second time they’ve walked out of the talks; same reason both times. The first time was on April 5 – just three days after bargaining began. At that time, IATSE Cinematographers Guild Local 600 told its members that the talks stalled because management’s AMPTP “was not prepared to address our key priorities.”

The main sticking point is how to rescue the union’s ailing pension plan, which is fast approaching “critical status.” As of January 1, 2017, it was only 67.4% funded, and under federal law, a pension plan is considered to have reached “critical status” if it falls below 65% funded. Over the past three years, its funding level has declined precipitously – falling from 80.8% in 2015 to 76.8% in 2016.

IATSE Local 600

The companies say they will keep the plan funded, but there’s a dispute over how best to do that. The union wants streaming shows to start paying residuals into its pension and health plans. “The evolving landscape of our industry has created new distribution opportunities which in turn have created the need for a funding structure that aligns with those new opportunities,” Local 600 told its members. “As the industry evolves we must claim our share of that future…The DGA and WGA fought and achieved their piece of the new distribution models and we deserve the same outcome.”

The union also wants more “equity” in industry standards for those employed in New Media, and Local 600 has been pushing for shorter workdays – something it considers a top safety priority. There’s also a grass roots movement to get the companies to agree to pay equity for crafts that have been historically female.