Studios have made some concessions to IATSE’s claims regarding long production times, but an agreement still remains “one way off”, according to an IATSE local update on Thursday.
David O’Farrell, business agent for IATSE Local 487, told members that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had agreed on a 10-hour turnaround bar for all productions. He added that there had been a “weekend turnaround movement” – one of the union’s priorities.
Negotiators are hoping to avoid strikes, which will shut down TV and film production across the country. More than 52,000 members voted over the weekend to allow IATSE chief Matthew de Loeb to call a strike if the union did not comply.
“There has been some progress in the talks but not enough,” O’Farrell reported. “While they may be at the table, we are still the way to stay out of the deal. The AMPTP is pushing back on where they can create cracks but the IA attitude is to bargain hard and get what we owe.”
Another local reported on Wednesday that the situation was still “liquid”.
Sources close to the management said that the talks were going on slowly but amicably. “It’s not the WGA,” said one management-side labor veteran, noting that the level of tension was lower than in the previous tough AMPTP deal situation. Sources point out that there are 13 different local people in the IATSE discussion who have specific disciplines that need to be addressed, which slows down the process.
In addition to promising 10-hour shifts as a quality issue, the source said AMPTP companies are signing contracts on terms that could add extra days to the production schedule of the drama series. While the seven- and eight-day shooting for the hour-long episode was ideal for some time, a minimum nine-day shooting schedule could be the standard to go ahead.
The International Coalition of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents the vast majority of Hollywood’s production workers, seeks to end the practice of running 14-day or more workdays. Union negotiators are also seeking an end to “Friday”, a late-Friday shift that runs on Saturday mornings, effectively eating workers’ weekends.
“Turnaround” is a term for a minimum period of time between shifts. Some employees already have a 10-hour turnaround, but some have only an eight- or nine-hour turnaround. One of the goals of the union was to have 10-hour shifts for all workers. The union is seeking a 5-hour turnaround on the weekends.
O’Ferrall further reported that AMPTP has made “small movements” over two other union priorities – food fines and “new media”. The union wants to increase food penalties as a way to force productions to have lunch breaks, and also wants to bring streaming production with wages paid on traditional projects.
The union wants higher wages for the lowest paid workers in the bargaining unit, which includes writer assistants and script coordinators. O’Farrell reports that “wages and benefits are still problematic.”
The union and the AMPTP are back at the negotiating table for the third day of talks since the results of the vote approving the strike were announced on Monday. Both sides are seeking a new three-year agreement, which will also address funding for the union’s pension and health plans.
The negotiators represent 1 local on the West Coast, which is covered by the Basic Agreement, as well as 2 locals across the country, who are covered by the Area Standards Agreement. The two agreements share the same basic template, and are being negotiated at the same time.
Local 487 is headquartered in Baltimore, and is covered by the Area Standards Agreement. O’Ferrall wanted to reassure his members that the two bargaining units would not stand against each other.
“There will be a fair deal or no deal for both,” O’Farrell said.
AMPTP declined to comment.