by Robin Kemp

5:40 p.m.: CLARIFICATION: on order of steps in voting

About 6,000 union film crew members in Clayton County and the East Coast are waiting to see how a tentative basic agreement between their West Coast members and production studios.

IATSE Local 479 General Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Cheatham

IATSE Local 479 General Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Cheatham said West Coast union members and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMTMP) came to the tentative basic agreement Saturday. The AMTMP is a non-profit organization that represents “studios,  broadcast networks, cable networks and motion picture, and television producers.”

How it works

Once an agreement is negotiated on the West Coast, Cheatham said, “The next step, if a tentative agreement is reached, is that the details will come out for our West Coast members. The Area Standards Agreement [covering 26 locals in the Eastern United States] is being negotiated this week, maybe next week. When those details are out, then the membership on the East and West Coasts will vote for both.”

The “sister ratification” would be voted on by each local. When that would be is “to be determined,” Cheatham said.

However, Variety reports that many members are not satisfied with the offer on the table.

Director of photography Ernesto Lomelli of Los Angeles told Variety, “Basically nothing has changed. I have not heard a single person saying they will vote yes.”

Negotiating points

The tentative basic agreement, according to Variety, includes:

  • 10 hours’ turnaround time between shifts (some members say they want 12 hours)
  • a 54-hour weekend
  • 3% annual wage increase over the next three years
  • increased meal penalties
  • better wages and working conditions for streaming productions
  • a living wage for the lowest-paid crew members

Other details of the contract, such as residuals going into the pension and health plan, and requiring more hours before crew members can get the pension plan, have yet to be disclosed.

IASTE Local 479’s studio and mechanical workers represent about 40% of the union’s 150,000 members. Since 2008, when the State of Georgia’s tax credit for film and video production went into effect, the union has grown about 30 times its original size.

For now, local members are still on the job. On October 4, 89.66% of members voted, with more than 98.68% of them voting in favor of a strike if no deal is reached.

Read the 2018-2021 Mid-Atlantic Area Standards Agreement.

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