Talks Paused for West Coast Locals Without Deal

By Chanak Maduranga

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Talks Paused for West Coast Locals Without Deal
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Though IATSE had initially planned to conclude its general negotiations for West Coast Locals on Thursday, the day came and went without a deal, the union announced on Friday.

Instead, talks over key issues like wages, AI and working conditions have been paused for now and additional bargaining dates are expected to be scheduled for early June.

“We are working toward setting additional bargaining dates to continue to negotiate the deal our members deserve,” international IATSE president Matthew Loeb said in a statement on Friday. “Talks remain ongoing and we are focused on achieving the goals we came to the table with: improved wages and safer working conditions, consistent funding for our benefit plans, reasonable AI and subcontracting protections, and appropriate enhancements to our Video Tape Agreement and Side Letters.”

The 13 West Coast Locals, which resumed negotiations over shared issues with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on April 29, discussed a broad swath of issues in their third week of bargaining since the return to negotiations. Funding into the union’s health and pension plans, AI, working conditions, minimum wage rates, subcontracting, the union’s Videotape Agreement and contract sideletters were all on the table.

Replenishing union members’ health and pension plans is a major priority for IATSE in particular. Funds for those benefits took a hit during the 2023 actors’ and writers’ strikes, when crew members spent sustained periods out of work and the plans amended qualification requirements for needy workers. On April 28 IATSE’s West Coast Locals told their members that the plans require an estimated $670 million in additional funding over the next three years.

According to IATSE, the union coalition called the Hollywood Basic Crafts (including Teamsters, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Laborers International Union of North America, United Association Plumbers and Operating Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association Locals) joined IATSE Locals and the AMPTP to discuss shared health and pension benefits on Wednesday and Thursday.

Other major issues for IATSE in 2024 include increasing minimum wage rates after a period of high inflation, instituting guardrails on the use of AI and creating a 401(k) that would supplement the health and pension plans for members. The union has also stated that it wants to end some sideletters to the contract, augment financial penalties if contractual rest periods are delayed or bypassed, increase sick leave, bring more standardization to wages across genres in the union’s Videotape Agreement and stop signatory companies from allegedly subcontracting work covered under the contract to third parties.

So far in the 2024 cycle of negotiations, union leaders have suggested the negotiations have been constructive. Still, earlier in the week, IATSE West Coast leaders told members in a message, “We do still face challenges on some key items. It’s understood that compromise is an essential aspect of every negotiation, and this one will be no exception.” The lack of a deal on Thursday suggested that some of those sticking points remain.

Starting on Monday, IATSE and the AMPTP will pivot to negotiating the union’s Area Standards Agreement, covering a number of Locals representing film and television workers outside New York and the West Coast. Both the West Coast Locals’ Basic Agreement and the Area Standards Agreement expire on July 31. IATSE has stated that it might call a strike authorization vote if no deals are reached by that time.

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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