“The basic agreement bargaining committee has met over the last two days with the AMPTP. An agreement has not been reached,” the union said in its latest update to its members.
“The parties’ extension agreement expired at midnight on Sept. 10th but negotiations continue. In the meantime, the status quo remains in effect and all members should continue to report to work. Information will be provided as it becomes available.”
The union’s current contract has been set to expire on July 31, but was extended to allow Hollywood’s unions and the major companies to reach a new agreement on Covid-19 safety protocols, which include guidelines for mandatory vaccinations.
In a previous update, dated Aug. 31, the union said that “After more than six weeks of negotiations over a period of four months, it remains clear that the employers are unwilling to resolve our priority issues — living wages, reasonable rest, meal breaks, sustainable benefits and streaming.”
Since then, the union has been gearing up for a possible strike, and has launched a text messaging campaign to educate members about the negotiations and what’s at stake. “Our goal,” the union told its members earlier this week, “to reach every single one of our members and make sure they know what is going on in negotiations, where to go to get more information, and when the moment comes, how to make their voices heard by voting. We don’t know yet what the vote will be — contract ratification or strike authorization — but we know it is coming and we need local members to speak out in large numbers.”
A member of the union’s negotiating committee told his members today that while “some movement” has been made in the talks, the two sides “are still far apart” on wages, and that the employers have “virtually ignored” the union’s demands for a bigger share of their revenue from streaming projects.
In an email to his members, the local leader noted that “We hear your stories of worsening long and unsafe working hours. We proposed a 10-hour turnaround provision to cover all productions and guarantee a minimum weekend.” In response, he said, “Employers have made some movement on the 10-hour turnaround, but refuse to discuss a minimum weekend.”
With regard to sustainable benefits, he said that “With healthcare costs rising, more funding is needed. Thanks to our hard work, our employers are generating billions and are now earning more than ever with the explosion of streaming content. Response: employers are continuously arguing that ‘streaming is experimental,’ and refuse to increase the share of residuals that go to our pension and health plan.”
On the issue of meal breaks, he said: “We hear from countless members that you have been unable to take your meal breaks. We propose an increase in meal penalties, so there is a significant deterrent to meal break abuse. Employers instead offered to eliminate meal breaks and replace them with rolling lunches, with no solution for crews…who are unable to leave the set at any time during the day.”
“The most important thing we can do now,” he told his members, “is show our solidarity.”
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