IATSE Sets More Bargaining Dates in June, as AI Remains Key Issue

IATSE has scheduled an additional three days of bargaining in June in which it hopes to wrap up a tentative agreement with the studios.

The union told members Friday that it has reached “consensus” with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on some issues. But there is still work to do on artificial intelligence, and how best to protect workers whose jobs are displaced by AI.

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Under existing agreements, IATSE workers who lose their jobs permanently due to “technological change” are entitled to retraining and severance pay. The new contract is expected to address how that would apply in the case of AI.

The union has said it is not trying to block AI, but it does want to address the many ways it could impact the numerous crafts under its jurisdiction. IATSE represents a broad range of “below the line” workers, from grips and prop masters to costume designers and cinematographers.

The union is scheduled to resume bargaining on the Basic Agreement from June 3-5. That contract covers about 45,000 to 50,000 workers in 13 unions based in Los Angeles.

Negotiators spent this week discussing a parallel contract, the Area Standards Agreement, which covers another 23 locals around the country. Bargaining on that contract is set to resume on Tuesday and run through next week.

The ASA talks are focused on working condition issues, such as the length of a workday and provisions for rest periods.

“This negotiation is fundamentally about ensuring the employers respect our right to get off our feet and get some rest during a long workday, to get home safely and see our families and have some economic stability,” said Matt Loeb, the international president of IATSE, in the message on Friday. “The work will continue next week when we resume our talks with the employers.”

The union is also seeking to close a $670 million shortfall in the health and pension programs over the next three years. IATSE wants a new revenue source, in the form of a streaming residual, to shore up funds that have been drained by the double strike last year and the COVID pandemic.

In the message, IATSE emphasized that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to, and that the tentative areas of consensus are still subject to change.

The Basic Agreement and the Area Standards Agreement expire on July 31. The AMPTP also has to negotiate a new Basic Crafts contract in June with the Teamsters and a handful of other unions, including laborers, electricians and plumbers.

The industry has struggled to fully rebound from the strikes, amid a broad contraction, leaving many IATSE workers on the sidelines for more than a year.

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