EXCLUSIVE: As IATSE members vote on a new three-year film and TV contract, management’s AMPTP has weighed in with a defense of proposed safety provisions designed to prevent drowsy driving accidents after long workdays.

IATSE says the new pact includes “a massive stride forward in improving rest-time provisions,” but opponents who say it doesn’t go far enough to curb the industry’s brutally long hours include the leaders of the Editors Guild and the widow of assistant camera operator Brent Hershman, who was killed in 1997 when he fell asleep at the wheel while driving home after a 19-hour workday.

Responding to a Deadline story earlier this week, AMPTP spokesman Jarryd Gonzales said: “It’s important to note that during this last round of negotiations, a remedy to ensure tragedies like the one of Brent Hershman never happen again. As part of the collective bargaining agreement, if ratified, the producers agreed to provide either courtesy housing or round trip transportation (to home and back) for an employee who works long hours (14 hours or more) and advises the producer that he or she is too tired to drive home safely.”

Responding to Editors Guild’s complaint that its members didn’t get the same deal on rest time between work shifts as members of IATSE’s other 12 West Coast studio locals, Gonzales said, “The fact is each group received one additional hour of turnaround time – on-production employees went from 9 to 10 hours and the Editor’s Guild went from eight to nine hours.”

Motion Picture Editors Guild

But Editors Guild national executive director Cathy Repola pointed out to her members that this added hour of turnaround time “will not apply to pilots and first-season episodics” and that “that area is absolutely where our members need the relief the most.” She also told her members that “for features and long-form TV, the provision will only apply if you work two consecutive 14-hour days. None of this will apply to any on-call employees. An additional hour of straight time pay is the only penalty if the ninth hour is invaded.”

Ratification of the new contract is opposed by the leaders of the Editors Guild, but is supported by IATSE international president Matt Loeb and by the leaders of the other 12 Hollywood locals. Ballots will be counted on October 10.