The new three-year contract, which must now be ratified by the union’s members, comes just hours before the deadline – midnight PT Sunday – imposed by IATSE president Matthew Loeb. The union and the Carol Lombardini-led AMPTP are expected to make the agreement public shortly.
“It took a lot to get here, but this is a good deal, a fair deal for everyone concerned,” an individual close to the sometimes strained negotiations told Deadline once all the final contract language was agreed to Saturday. “Time to break out the cigars,” the individual added.
“This is a Hollywood ending,” Loeb said. “Our members stood firm. They’re tough and united. We went toe to toe with some of the richest and most powerful entertainment and tech companies in the world, and we have now reached an agreement with the AMPTP that meets our members’ needs.”
“Solidarity is more than a word,” he added. “It’s the way to get things done.”
“Our members will see significant improvements, but our employers also will benefit,” said Mike Miller, vice president and Motion Picture Director for IATSE. “This settlement allows pre-production, production and post-production to continue without interruption. Workers should have improved morale and be more alert. Health and safety standards have been upgraded.”
The deal for the new contract – called the Basic Agreement – is now in the books, but negotiations with the AMPTP will continue for IATSE members who work under the similar Area Standards Agreement in major production hubs such as New Mexico, New York, Illinois, Georgia and Louisiana.
More details are to come, but deal points 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 yet-to-be approved 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 of the contract.
With many of the larger issues resolved late this week, today’s talks saw IATSE and the AMPTP going over several smaller-but-vital matters, we hear. Once that was settled, the administrative component had to be dealt with, as the deal was actually typed up for all to look over one final time.
Although the tentative deal was reached before the deadline this weekend, and things actually really started coming together midday Friday, the situation remained in a state of flux almost right up to the final hours. Union officials were cautioning members about getting too optimistic. “Even though we are still at the bargaining table trying to get an agreement, at the time of this writing, there are no plans to call off the strike,” said an email that went out to members of Local 80 late on October 15.updating them on talks and preparations for the 12:01 AM Monday labor action.
The hard-fought agreement came after two final weeks of intense bargaining, as members prepared to shut down the industry if they had to. The two sides had been talking, on and off, since mid-May. But the discussions became much more urgent two weeks ago, when IATSE members voted overwhelmingly to authorize Loeb to call a strike if the last-ditch efforts failed to produce an acceptable deal.
On Wednesday, the union president declared that the studios, networks and streamers still weren’t taking the union’s demands seriously enough, saying that “the pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency.”
The AMPTP, however, said all along that it remained “committed to making a deal.”
To that end, not long after the 98% strike-authorization vote result was announced October 4, industry elders super lawyer Ken Ziffren, Disney TV boss Peter Rice and DGA’s former executive national director Jay Roth joined the talks. The power trio offered their consul to both sides in an effort to cool the increasingly heated temperature in the virtual negotiations, with phone calls and Zoom chats flying at a furious pace over the past 72 hours.
The union’s chief goals were livable wages for the lowest paid crafts; more turnaround time between workdays; actual meal breaks; a rescue of the union’s ailing pension and health plan; and a bigger share of the revenue from streaming shows.
If the red line had been crossed in the early hours of Monday, a national strike would have been the first in the 128-year history of IATSE, which boasts 60,000 members.
Now, Hollywood will be heading back to work Monday. Also, union members will be heading to the ballot box in the next few days to give or refuse their stamp of approval to today’s deal.