The membership of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has voted to ratify a new three-year agreement, ending the threat of the first national strike in the union’s history. The contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was ratified despite opposition from many members who felt it did not do enough to address oppressive working conditions on set, including long hours and a lack of timely rest periods.
Heading toward a near midnight Sunday deadline, IATSE members now have their ballots to vote on a new three-year deal with producers. The nearly 60,000 members of the below-the-line union received emails this morning starting around 6 a.m. PT prompting them to login in and digitally cast their vote.
At a moment of political turmoil, economic change and a pandemic-driven focus on how we work, labor has become a hot news beat. Above,
The drama is not over. The contract must still be ratified, and many members quickly denounced it on social media. The rank and file had organized online in support of a historic strike authorization vote, sharing the pain and frustration of toiling behind the scenes in Hollywood, in hopes of getting better working conditions and pay. To them, the deal felt like the status quo. It’s not clear whether that opposition is broad enough to kill it with a no vote on the ratification — but the leadership has more work to do.
After days of marathon negotiations, representatives from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and from the studios and entertainment companies who employ them reached the three-year contract agreement before a Monday strike deadline, avoiding a serious setback for an industry that had just gotten back to work after long pandemic shutdowns.
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees International President Matthew Loeb said Wednesday that the strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. Monday unless an agreement is reached on rest and meal periods and pay for its lowest-paid workers.
Claudia Eller: It will be a downright fiasco if the leadership of Hollywood’s studios, networks and streamers doesn’t do everything in its collective bargaining power to prevent the labor union representing camera operators, editors, production designers, grips and other workers from going out on strike.
Negotiations between the studios and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees are expected to continue on Wednesday as the sides try to avoid a strike that would shut down production and immediately cripple Hollywood’s content pipeline. In what could be taken as a sign of progress, the two sides are not saying much publicly about the negotiations.
It’s typical for Hollywood’s labor unions to support for each other during labor disputes, but the support for IATSE during its current contract dispute with film and TV producers goes beyond the usual labor solidarity. That’s because the below-the-line workers’ union could be setting a standard for all future Hollywood contracts in the streaming era.
In an overwhelming show of union solidarity, IATSE members have voted to authorize a nationwide strike against film and TV productions if last-ditch negotiations with the AMPTP fail to produce a fair deal. The vote — 98% in favor — now gives IATSE President Matthew Loeb indisputable authority to call a strike if he and AMPTP President Carol Lombardini can’t reach an agreement in the coming days.
A number of unions have called on President Biden to name acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel to the permanent position, saying the commission is understaffed and has a lot of work to do that needs a full commission and a full-time chair. That came in a letter to the president citing her accomplishments and suggesting that there should be no further delay in naming a chair — and a third Democratic commissioner — given the big issues on the FCC’s plate.
A group of more than 300 MSNBC employees are mounting a unionization drive with the Writers Guild of America East to represent writers, talent bookers, fact-checkers and others in editorial at NBCUniversal’s all-news cable network.
Employees at MSNBC, the 24-hour cable news channel with a slate of prominent liberal anchors, said on Thursday that they planned to form a union representing about 315 workers including producers, bookers, writers and fact checkers. The announcement is the latest example of a workers’ rights movement that has swept major media organizations, as print, digital and broadcast journalists seek to unionize amid a precarious outlook for their industry.
Producers are looking to unionize to protect their rights in the streaming era, but will likely face stiff resistance from major media companies.
David White (l) is stepping down as SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief contract negotiator. He’ll be staying on at the union until later this spring. In a special meeting held today, the SAG-AFTRA National Board authorized President Gabrielle Carteris and outside counsel to enter into discussions with Duncan Crabtree-Ireland (r), the union’s longtime general counsel and chief operating officer, to succeed White.
Amazon’s defeat of a union organizing effort in Alabama on Friday was the latest setback for workers who have been clamoring to assert more control over the technology companies that depend on them — one that showed how Silicon Valley giants still have a major edge in determining where power resides in the modern economy.
Gawker Media made history five years ago for being the first digital news company to ratify a union contract, kicking off a wave of labor organizing at digital outlets that has yet to recede. On Thursday, staffers at the online publishing platform Medium announced their intention to unionize, following in the footsteps of Gawker, HuffPost, Salon, Slate, Vice, BuzzFeed News, Vox Media, Bustle Digital Group, Wirecutter and The Ringer, to name a few.
Donald Trump, who resigned from SAG-AFTRA on Thursday while facing almost certain expulsion from the union, has now been banned from ever rejoining. The SAG-AFTRA National Board, meeting via Zoom videoconference Saturday, passed a resolution preemptively denying any potential re-admission applications by him.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for the e-commerce giant, which is fighting the biggest labor battle in its history on U.S. soil
Facing expulsion from SAG-AFTRA, Donald Trump resigned his membership from the union Thursday. To which SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White simply said: “Thank you.”
The relationship between the show and the folks who make it began to shift in March, when the latter were informed that Ray would, in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19, shoot the remainder of the 2019-20 season remotely from her house in upstate New York without on-site assistance from anyone beside her husband — and that displaced crew members would not be paid for the five scheduled shoot days remaining in the season. That move prompted a dispute by IATSE, which claimed that its contract with the show covering 18 union camera operators, audio engineers and other technical crew requires producers to pay those furloughed workers for all remote shoot days that had originally been planned for the studio.
More than 15,000 people have signed a petition from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees asking Sinclair Broadcast Group to improve its recent offer to unemployed broadcast technicians. The petition was circulated after IATSE criticized Sinclair’s plan to loan money in response to the coronavirus pandemic through a multi-million-dollar emergency fund that offers an interest-free advance of $2,500 to the 1,000 sports network freelancers who work at its Fox regional sports networks and Marquee Sports Network.