Studios Claim IATSE Deal Has Been Reached, Would Avert Major Strike

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illustration of striking IATSE workers

After tempestuous negotiations that extended over many months, a deal for an IATSE film and television contract has been reached, the AMPTP told The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday, which would avert a major strike coast to coast. The union has yet to confirm the news, first reported by Deadline.

Contract talks between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) kept up Friday night until 11 p.m. PT and resumed on Saturday, as the clock ticked toward a potential strike. On Saturday a source on the studio side indicated that progress was being made, while IATSE was remaining more tight-lipped and this week has even urged members not to believe unverified information.

Some union members, both on social media and in conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, indicated that with current momentum there’s a willingness to strike rather than accept a subpar deal. Should negotiators reach a tentative deal by Sunday night, members would still have to ratify the agreement.

“There’s been good progress made [in] the last 48 hours in these negotiations and a deal seems to be in sight,” said a studio source earlier on Saturday. The union did not return a request for comment on this description of the talks.

International president Matthew D. Loeb has said a strike would begin on Monday at 12:01 a.m. PT if the union still has not reached an agreement in its contract talks with the AMPTP.

In the meantime, strike plans continued throughout the weekend. Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700) sent out an email to members Friday night, with a link to sign up for a picketing location, wording of a letter that members may send to employers, and other instructions on how to prepare for a potential strike. “If you are working a job that is subject to the strike, assume that it will be on strike as of 12:01 a.m. Monday morning unless and until you receive email communication with instructions to the contrary,” Local 700 national executive director Cathy Repola explained in the email, saying that at that time members working for struck employers should withhold services and those working on-site at that time should vacate the premises.

The Costume Designers Guild (Local 892) sent members reminders to fill out work report forms and sign up for strike positions, while Local 706 held a negotiations Q&A on Thursday and Local 600 will hold a town hall for strike and negotiations update on Sunday. On Friday, writers assistants and script coordinators disseminated a guide for showrunners, writers and writers office support staff regarding “how to handle work covered by the IATSE Basic Agreement if IATSE goes on strike on Monday, October 18, 2021,” and some strike captain training is happening this weekend.

Union members have been encouraged to check their emails on Sunday evening and Monday morning to learn if a strike is called.

The strike affects roughly 60,000 motion picture and TV workers including the union’s 13 West Coast Locals that work under the Basic Agreement. Before the deadline, the Guild encourages members to remove personal property from their employer’s premises, and, if they are unsure, to check on their job status. (Certain contracts, such as the Pay Television and Commercial Agreements, don’t apply). Over the weekend, several IATSE members posted photos as they cleaned up their work spaces in preparation for a potential strike.

Repola’s email states that Guild members are “expected to walk the picket line” should IATSE call a strike. Sign-up options for Los Angeles-based workers include Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros. and Universal lots, as well as Manhattan Beach Studios, Culver Studios, Sunset Bronson, CBS  Radford, Television City and Santa Clarita Studios. Chelsea Piers is a picket option for New York-based union members. Members may also volunteer in areas from communications to a hardship committee.

If IATSE calls a strike, Local 700 members working remotely or on location have already been instructed to notify their employers using a provided message. For those on location, it includes a sentence stating “I understand that my employer is legally obligated to arrange and pay for me and my equipment to return home.” 

Oct. 156, 5:14 p.m. Updated to include studio source saying a deal had been made.

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