Negotiators from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have reached a deal for a new three-year contract, averting a strike that would have shut down film and TV production across the country.
The deal must still be ratified by the membership, but it appears that the union will not be calling the first nationwide strike in its 128-year history.
Talks went past 10 p.m. on Friday as the union leadership and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, led by Carol Lombardini, worked out the details affecting some 60,000 film workers, including camera operators, grips, sound technicians, and makeup artists.
Sources said the agreement included 10-hour “turnaround” times between shifts, and 54-hour turnarounds on weekends, as well as 3% increases for each of three years. Other details were not immediately forthcoming.
Matthew D. Loeb, the international president of the union, had set a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. Monday if a deal could not be reached. The union had been preparing to put up picket lines at 21 locations — including Disney, Warner Bros., and Universal Studios — starting at 6 a.m. on Monday morning.
The union has been seeking concessions on long works hours, as well as streaming residuals and pay increases for low-wage workers.
The leadership still must sell the agreement to the members, who voted overwhelmingly on Oct. 1-3 to authorize a strike, with nearly 99 percent in favor. The ratification vote likely will not come for several weeks, at minimum, if not a couple of months.
Union negotiators, led by Loeb and Vice President Michael F. Miller Jr., have been negotiating via Zoom with the AMPTP nearly every day since Oct. 5. Many of the rank-and-file members had grown anxious about the deliberate pace of negotiations, and called on Loeb to order a strike. One business agent advised members that he shared their frustration, but that that it was “a tricky and delicate process.”
“You gave us the mandate to obtain the best deal possible,” the business agent wrote. “We will use whatever means necessary to get it but ultimately it will be up to you to decide if it is good enough.”
Production work is notoriously arduous, with work days sometimes running 14 hours or longer. Though long hours have been an issue in prior negotiations, the union has not previously threatened to strike over it. The pandemic — which shut down production for nearly six months — has prompted many members to focus on finally making progress on the issue.
Union negotiators were also seeking higher pay scales for streaming service shows, in addition to the 10-hour turnarounds. Some members, however, have said that the leadership’s demands did not go far enough, and said they would vote to reject any deal that did not include 12-hour turnarounds.