IATSE Contract Talks Shift to Toughest Issues: Wages, AI and Residuals

IATSE negotiators are bracing for the next phase of contract negotiations with Hollywood’s major studios and streamers after the conclusion this week of talks with all 13 West Coast local union on the craft-specific aspects of a new master contract.

On Monday, IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will shift the focus of negotiations to wages, residuals, working conditions and the use of artificial intelligence in production. Those are the thornier issues to hammer out for the union that represents the vast majority of below-the-line workers in TV and film.

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IATSE International president Matthew Loeb has said his goal is to have the new three-year contract ratified by members prior to the July 31 expiration of the current agreement. After last year’s months-long strikes by Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, the industry is nervously watching the IATSE talks. There’s hope for avoiding another industry shutdown from the fact that the sides began the bargaining process in early March, giving them plenty of runway to discuss the tough issues without the added pressure of a ticking clock.

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Matthew Miller, VP of IATSE International, put a positive spin on the atmosphere in the negotiating room at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks so far. It’s a contrast to the contentiousness of WGA and SAG-AFTRA talks last year, which IATSE leaders observed in preparation for their time at the table.

“Our locals’ craft-specific issues required the employers’ attention, and at the table we’re seeing improved engagement and dialogue,” Miller said. “That indicates the studios’ negotiators have different marching orders this contract cycle. This approach will be helpful as we continue our negotiations over
the next few weeks.”

On Friday, IATSE confirmed that Affiliated Property Craftspersons Local 44 reached a tentative agreement with AMPTP on April 25. Studio Teachers, IATSE Local 884, reached a tentative agreement on April 19. That completes the list of 13 locals that have reached tentative pacts on issues that are specific to their discipline. Next up is the formal Basic Agreement General Negotiations, which are scheduled to begin April 29 and run through May 16. That contract covers about 40,000 workers across the 13 West Coast locals.

Negotiations on IATSE’s Area Standards Agreement are set to run May 20-May 31. That agreement covers about 20,000 workers in 23 locals around the country, excluding New York but including nearly every other location where TV shows and films are produced.

IATSE leaders have kept the saber-rattling to a minimum so far despite the high anxiety around the talks in an industry that is eager to avoid another debilitating work stoppage. But the stakes are high and pressure is on Loeb and Miller to deliver strong contract gains for union members who are integral to the TV and film production process. In the negotiations update message to members, IATSE reminded members of the need to demonstrate resolve and solidarity.

“IATSE is continuing its calls for ALL film and TV sisters, brothers, and kin, and the broader labor movement to participate in #OneFightFridays, and wear union swag each Friday for the remainder of the negotiations to visually showcase our power and unity across the country,” the message stated.

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