EXCLUSIVE: The Editors Guild’s board of directors voted unanimously today to recommend that members vote “No” on the ratification of a new IATSE film and TV contract. The move comes just two days after IATSE reached a tentative agreement with management’s AMPTP on terms for a new three-year contract — a deal that IATSE president Matt Loeb called “a huge victory” for the union’s members.
Leaders of the Editors Guild Local 700 are at odds not only with Loeb but with leaders of IATSE’s 12 other Hollywood locals, including two other national locals – Cinematographers Guild Local 600 and Art Directors Guild Local 800 – whose leaders say they will be urging their members to vote “Yes” on the new contract.
Cathy Repola, the executive director of the Editors Guild, has called the new deal “a totally unnecessary” and “unacceptable agreement.” In a communique to her members last week, she said the new pact falls short of protecting the union’s pension and health plans; doesn’t give the IATSE a big enough share of residuals from shows aired on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and doesn’t adequately address the industry’s long workdays.
Funding of the pension plan, she wrote, “was addressed to some extent, but in a way that is short-sighted and will undoubtedly leave us fighting in the next round of negotiations and has the studios putting in very little money over the next cycle. There was no additional hourly pension contribution negotiated. A new ‘New Media Residual’ is included, but it is not what the other guilds (DGA, WGA, SAG-AFTRA) received, and it is impossible to put a value on it.”
IATSE had also been seeking a 10-hour turnaround between work shifts to curb the industry’s brutally long work hours, and got some relief in this area, although less for editors than for the other crafts. “The change for turnaround is 9 hours for Local 700 and 10 hours for all other locals,” Repola wrote. “However, this will not apply to pilots and first-season episodics. 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.”
Repola also said she was unhappy with the deal struck on improvements to the union’s health plan. “Our side agreed, with strong opposition from me, that all signatories of the agreement (excepting the major studios and any other companies they designate) will be subject to a $0.75 per hour contribution increase to the health plan each year of the agreement and resulting in a $2.25 per contribution hour increase by the third year. This will have a detrimental impact on our members who work at and own independent post facilities – sound houses, trailer editing, music editing, digital companies, and employee shareholders – because escalating their overhead costs will likely result in decreased employment. This will also make organizing non-union companies more difficult. This allows the studios to put a burden on smaller companies while avoiding any substantial contributions to the plans themselves.”
Supporters of the new agreement, including Thom Davis, business agent of Grips Local 80 and 2nd international vice president of IATSE, maintain that it’s a good deal. Davis, who told his local’s members that he’s “very proud of this new agreement,” said it “provides for secure funding of your pension plan. It ensures that your health plan is fully funded.” He also said it “will provide for better conditions on midlevel-budgeted productions made for streaming; improvements in rest periods; new revenue stream for the pension and health plans from productions made for streaming; wage increases, and courtesy housing or transportation on long work days.”