Hollywood Crew Union narrowly ratifies studio contracts

Cameramen, props, lighting and other members of the International Alliance of Theater Workers on Monday ratified new contracts with Hol...


Cameramen, props, lighting and other members of the International Alliance of Theater Workers on Monday ratified new contracts with Hollywood studios. But the margin was dangerously narrow, with many members viewing the pact as toothless in terms of preventing long working hours – the sort of conditions recently endured on the set of “Rust,” the Alec Baldwin film where the director of photography was killed and the director injured.

The IATSE, as the union is known, uses an electoral college-type system for the ratification of contracts, in which local stores are assigned different numbers of delegates according to their size and all of the delegates’ votes are cast according to their size. majority vote in each local. The IATSE said the combined delegate vote for the two contracts was 56% in favor, with 641 votes in total from 36 locals.

The popular vote, however, revealed a deep division: 50.3 percent of members voted yes on both contracts. About 72 percent of the 63,209 eligible members voted, according to the union.

Only 49.6% of Los Angeles members voted yes. In other parts of the country – with the exception of the Northeast, which largely operates under a different set of unexpired contracts – the popular vote rose to 52%.

“The vigorous debate, high turnout and close elections indicate that we have an unprecedented opportunity to build a movement to educate members on our collective bargaining process and foster greater participation in our union,” said Matthew Loeb, president of IATSE, in a statement.

In posts on Twitter, some outraged members demanded recounts and hurled insults at Mr Loeb and other IATSE officials.

As part of the new three-year contracts, studios for the first time agreed to give teams a minimum of 54 hours off on weekends when working five-day weeks, on par with actors. The contract includes wage increases of up to 60 percent for some workers who were previously paid near the minimum wage in California. The studios also agreed to fund an estimated $ 400 million deficit in the union’s pension and health plan without charging premiums or increasing the cost of health coverage.

Studios include mainstays like Disney, NBCUniversal, and WarnerMedia, and insurgents like Amazon, Apple, and Netflix.

Last week, a handful of IATSE members held a press conference in Hollywood to criticize the proposed contract – particularly a provision allowing teams to continue working 14 hours a day. The contracts provide for “rotations” of 10 hours, ie the time between leaving a position at the end of a period of work and the obligation to return.

The gunshot death last month of Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography of “Rust”, and the injury of Joel Souza, the director of the film, highlighted concerns about the rest of the team. Hours before Mr Baldwin fired a gun used as a prop – he was told the gun was “cold,” meaning it did not contain live ammunition, according to an affidavit – half a dozen camera technicians left the set to protest against the working conditions. Their complaints included marathon workdays, long trips to the set (cutting off rest time) and delayed paychecks.

The IATSE and the studios reached an agreement in principle for a new pact on October 16, averting a threat of strike action, which would have come at a particularly bad time for Hollywood. Studios have struggled to make up for lost production time during the coronavirus pandemic. Another shutdown would have left the cabinets of content dangerously empty – especially for streaming services, which have become crucial to the reputations of some businesses on Wall Street.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Hollywood Crew Union narrowly ratifies studio contracts
Hollywood Crew Union narrowly ratifies studio contracts
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