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IATSE, Studios Set to Negotiate Craft-Specific Issues Next Week

After nearly a week of internal conversations on both sides, IATSE and Hollywood’s major studios and streamers will be resuming their ongoing negotiations on Monday by covering craft-specific issues.

The International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600) will be discussing its proposals with management at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in Sherman Oaks on March 18-20, a tentative schedule for the week provided to The Hollywood Reporter from a union source stated. Meanwhile, simultaneous discussions will occur for the Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800) during those same days at the IATSE West Coast headquarters in Burbank.

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Later in the week on March 21-22, the Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700) will meet with the AMPTP at the IATSE West Coast Headquarters. Finally, on Friday, the set painters’ and sign writers’ union IATSE Local 729 will commence its craft-specific negotiations at the AMPTP’s building. The schedule is still tentative and subject to change; the AMPTP did not respond when asked to confirm the schedule.

The crew union began its sprawling triennial negotiations process with the AMPTP on Monday, March 4, when the organization and a coalition of other behind-the-scenes industry unions (called the Hollywood Basic Crafts group) put forward their initial proposals on health and pension benefits to management. On March 5 and March 7, IATSE began separate talks with the same companies over a large agreement covering 13 West Coast Locals and some 50,000 members — the so-called Basic Agreement. This week, the two sides spent their time in “caucus,” essentially meeting internally and discussing next steps before across-the-table talks start again on Monday.

In this round of negotiations, IATSE is focused on raising wages in a way that will address recent inflation and on enforcing its preexisting contract language (it’s seeking, for instance, to dissuade signatories from allegedly subcontracting covered work). The union also wants to make strides in changing working conditions for members, at least in part by increasing financial penalties incurred for “overworking” members, in the words of the union. And just like the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA did during their fraught 2023 negotiations, the union will be fighting to put guardrails on the use of AI “to protect behind-the-scenes workers’ jobs and creative works, data/privacy, and their safety,” as IATSE stated on X on March 7.

Meanwhile, with the 2023 actors and writers strikes behind them, studios and streamers are eager to avoid any further costly labor battles. But with the industry in a period of contraction, any cost-cutting initiatives that trickle into the negotiating room could collide with labor leaders’ eagerness to clinch a financially generous deal for their members.

Two major agreements covering roughly 75,000 IATSE members — the Basic Agreement and the Area Standards Agreement — expire on July 31. The union has indicated that if no deal is reached by this time, it is willing to call a strike authorization vote.

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