UPDATED with more details from the proposed agreement: Almost a month after IATSE and the AMPTP said that they had reached a deal on a new film and TV contract to avert a major Hollywood strike, the completed general memorandum of agreement was finally released Thursday to union members.
“This Memorandum of Agreement reflects the complete understanding reached between the parties,” reads the introduction to the 49-page agreement. “As soon as practicable, this Memorandum of Agreement will be reduced to formal contract language. This Memorandum of Agreement is not contract language, except where the context clearly indicates otherwise.”
Sent today members of Hollywood’s 13 locals, the agreement follows IATSE and the AMPTP solidifying the Area Standard Agreement, covering 26 locals outside of Los Angeles, on October 26. The union always said that the two deals would be linked in their timeline for ratification.
IATSE said today that members would begin voting on both the Basic Agreement and the Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Area Standards Agreement starting November 12. The virtual balloting will continue until November 15 when results will be revealed.
With a number of members expressing concerns at virtual town halls and online about the new three-year contracts, there have been suggestions (to put it mildly) that the agreement be rejected, though until today most members only knew what the new deal contains in broad strokes. Hoping to avert the deal being thwarted, various locals are planning more virtual town halls and meetings beginning this weekend.
IATSE chief Matt Loeb and the other leadership also hope to make clear to members what they achieved in the bargaining, thanks to the shock given to the producers after a near 98% strike-authorization vote that occurred in early October. Having started addressing some concerns in Q&As and other venues, leadership is also determined to make members aware that under labor laws, rejecting the deal does mean a return to the negotiating table.
As lawyers and more were putting together the language for the memorandum of agreement over the past several weeks, IATSE provided highlights of the deal. Those include “improved wages and working conditions for streaming,” 10-hour turnaround times between shifts; MLK Day is now a holiday’ “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives”; increased funding of the health and pension plans. and a 3% rate increase every year for the duration of the proposed contract, among other changes. The AMPTP had wanted to settle the rate increase at around 3% for the first year and then shift it down to 2.5% or even less for the subsequent two years.
Among the other areas of interest to members has been the perilous financial state of the union’s Health and Pension Plans, which will now receive a sizable inject of cash.
“For the term of the agreement, ongoing hourly contribution increases resulting in $370 million in new money over the 3 years of the contract,” an IATSE document of October 19 read. “This will keep our Plans funded, with no reduction of benefits or increases to qualifications or premiums.”
However, in the absence of the full agreement, some members were unhappy that no significant benefits had been added and that streamers still were not paying in full residuals to the plans.
“The residuals remain a concern,” Editors Guild national executive director Cathy Repola wrote in an October 23 email to Local 700 members. “The AMPTP continues to refuse us new revenue streams. A decision was made among the bargaining committee to accept a deal without them as all of the working conditions were addressed.”
“I still believe that enhanced residuals offer the best means of supporting the long-term viability of the current structure of our health and pension plans,” Repola added. “However, I could not with any certainty tell our members that what we proposed in residuals would fully address the long-term sustainability of the Plans. Additional income would help, no doubt.”
Somewhat to that end, today MoA has a very interesting clause somewhat buried in the MoA that basically concedes all parties know there is more that needs to be done to keep the heavily subscribed Health and Pension plans alive and kicking — in perhaps another form.
“A committee consisting of an equal number of representatives of the Producers and the IATSE, in conjunction with the Health Plan’s consultants and the Pension Plan’s actuaries, shall conduct a joint study to examine the long-term status of the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans and possible alternative Plan structures going forward,” it says on page 5 of the just released agreement. “The committee shall meet as soon as practicable upon ratification of the Agreement with results of the study due to the bargaining parties by July 1, 2022. It is understood that other Union parties to the Plans may join the committee, if agreed by Producers.”
A.K.A. – this ain’t over
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