IATSE president Matthew Loeb, in what could be his final message to his members before they vote this weekend on a tentative agreement for a new film and contract, is urging them to vote “Yes” on ratification.
“You have recently been provided with information related to the renegotiation of the Producer-IATSE Basic Agreement,” he said in a statement posted Thursday on the union’s website. “You now have the opportunity to vote on the new terms of your contract. I recommend you carefully review the information on the new agreement and vote in favor of its ratification.”
It’s a familiar message that the union’s leadership has been promulgating throughout the ratification process – one with which opponents of ratification have become increasingly dissatisfied.
Brandy Tannahill, a member of IATSE Grips Local 80 who hosted two grass-roots inter-local town hall meetings over the past week to discuss the contract’s terms, told Deadline: “The messaging we’re receiving and have received throughout the negotiations process from IATSE leadership has been so polarized and enthusiastic in recommending a ‘Yes’ vote that it has come off as condescending and disrespectful of the rank-and-file membership. This letter sounds like rationalization and justification as a response to push-back that leadership is now hearing from the opposition viewpoint that is now getting louder from the membership. Members should be encouraged by leadership to vote however they feel is best for themselves and their brothers, sisters and kin, and should not be simply told to ratify.”
Loeb, in recounting the path the union took to the upcoming ratification vote, said in his latest statement:
“Throughout these difficult negotiations, we remained steadfast and resolved in our determination to achieve a contract that is fair and works for the members. Broadly, our proposals focused on improving working conditions and rates of pay generally, with a particular emphasis on streaming productions, and on maintaining existing health and retirement benefits. Quality of life issues, conditions on the job like rest and breaks, and diversity and inclusion measures were among the priorities upon which we remained focused.
“When negotiations broke off in September, the bargaining parties were far apart and there was no agreement on our priority issues. The employers refused to respond to our proposals. I invoked the International Constitution and called for a nationwide strike authorization vote under the Basic and the Area Standards Agreements—the first time that had ever occurred under these contracts. Calling for a national strike underscored the seriousness of these negotiations and the fight we were ready to take on until we secured the conditions you deemed essential.
“The confidence you placed in me and in your collective bargaining representatives was proven by the 90% turnout of eligible voters and the 98% “yes” vote authorizing a strike if necessary. The groundbreaking strike authorization vote was vital to achieving success in the priority areas you had identified for us. We got the producers’ attention and they immediately returned to the bargaining table with meaningful improvements on all of our priorities for the first time.
“The dynamics of these negotiations were like none other, taking place during a global pandemic, through a remote-meeting platform, after an unprecedented industry shut-down (which affected the lives of virtually everyone). Nonetheless, the proposals we took to the negotiating table focused upon bread-and-butter issues—essential issues for the motion picture and television industries’ workers. We negotiated for the necessary components that you need to carry out your jobs: rest at the end of a day and on the weekend; meal breaks during the day; leave if you get sick; living wages; secure health and retirement benefits; and improved wages and working conditions on streaming productions. The IATSE has led other entertainment industry unions and guilds by adding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday in its contract— an accomplishment that we hope will be recognized by the entire industry.
“We succeeded in reaching our objectives but make no mistake, this would never have been possible without the overwhelming showing of support demonstrated by the strike authorization vote. We showed our power and it worked. Without you, this groundbreaking contract would not have been possible. I encourage you to vote YES.”
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