Leaders of the Art Directors Guild, IATSE Local 800, are praising the deal reached Saturday with the AMPTP that averted the union’s first-ever nationwide strike. “Hands down this is the strongest contract we have achieved in our history,” they said, and gave credit to the solidarity of IATSE’s members for making it possible.
“This has been a long-fought effort in which the parties first met in May when we put forth significant proposals meant to address working conditions and quality of life issues,” Local 800 president Nelson Coates, national executive Chuck Parker, and assistant national executive director dooner said in an email to their members. “When talks broke down in September, you did something IATSE members have never done before, and your actions shocked the world. There is no way to over-emphasize the importance of the power generated when nearly every single one of you cast a ballot and the IATSE membership delivered 98.6% of the votes in favor of a strike authorization.
“By arming our chief negotiator, International President (Matthew) Loeb, with the ultimate weapon workers have, the ability to withhold their services, you sent a message that shifted the dynamic of these negotiations. In your collective preparations for a strike over the past few days, you amplified that message, putting employers into a state of uncertainty as they rapidly were forced to face the reality that a strike indeed would happen if an agreement was not reached.”
“Throughout this process,” they said, “you stood together, both within the Guild and all over the IATSE. The #IAsolidarity campaign drew public attention to our issues. We saw support from near and far, from actors and politicians to farm workers in the fields. The world heard you and most importantly, the employers heard you.
“In reaching the agreement that will be presented for ratification, with unanimous support of the 13 Hollywood Locals, the employers moved on issues some thought would never be addressed. Several senior members of the bargaining committee have been fighting for improved turnaround and weekend rest for nearly three decades. It was not achievable until now and the improvements in those areas will provide some welcome relief to crew members across the country.
“In New Media, the agreement will lead to a dramatic rate increase for almost all SVOD productions as it shifts away from MOW (Movie of the Week) rates in the coming year. When it is time to eat, it will be much more difficult for meals to be skipped as the penalties for late meals were increased dramatically. Our benefits have been protected with nearly $400 million dollars in new funding. And our lowest paid coworkers will finally receive a living wage.
“In short, our priorities have been addressed. We even made gains in areas that received little attention in the strike conversations. Our agreement will finally acknowledge the legacy of Dr Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the inclusion of the federal holiday among our contractual ones. New provisions related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will go a long way to honor his work, creating a workforce that is reflective of the world around it. For our on-call members an increase from 60 to 70 benefit hours per week by the third year will make it easier to qualify for health and pension benefits. Hands down this is the strongest contract we have achieved in our history.
“Full details of the agreement will be coming in the days ahead. The next step in the process will be a ratification vote. Documents are already being prepared and arrangements made for this. Keep an eye out for an announcement in the weeks ahead and let’s see if we can turn out as many people to vote in that process as voted on the authorization ballot.
“Our campaign became the focal point of a month of Labor actions across the country. In a time that will go down in Labor history as Striketober, you and your IATSE kin shined. Your actions have emboldened workers in other industries who have found the courage to stand up and fight back. Of that you should all be proud.
“It has been our incredible honor to be there with you for this fight, representing you at the table and making sure your voice was heard. We are excited by the resulting agreement and the promise that it holds for the future, but more than that we are so overjoyed by what we have all done together and how our Union has grown. We hope this is just the beginning and you will all stay engaged. There is still much work to do and other battles to be fought and we will need you there with us to achieve victory. Together we rise.”