The IATSE ratified the new union agreement in a split, closed ballot

The crew is watching a scene from the movie The Witcher produced by Netflix.

Photography: Katalin Vermes / Netflix

After the tension subsided between studios and one of the largest unions in the industry which threatened by a potential strike action last month, the IATSE ratified a new union agreement after months of negotiations. But the vote also reveals how divided IATSE members were around the new agreement, which critics say doesn’t go far enough in protection of recording workers.

Diversity reports that the new deal — which provides for 54-hour weekend breaks and a minimum 10-hour shift between shifts for all members — an annual increase of 3% with an increased salary for the lowest paid union members and an increase in pension and health fund plans — voted 72 % of union members of the International Alliance of Employees on the Theater Stage. However, despite The IATSE leadership signs the agreement last month as “Hollywood Ending,” the vote on the new contract was incredibly close.

52 percent of members voted in favor of the Regional Standards Agreement – part of an agreement covering 23 local union activities across America. Basic Agreement — covers 13 West Coasts-IATSE-based local residents — actually voted against, with 50.4% voting against the agreement and 49.6% voting in favor. However, as IATSE votes function on the delegate system – similar to the way electoral college voting is used in U.S. policy – both agreements have been ratified: 256 delegates voted for the Basic Agreement, against 188, while the Agreement on Spatial Standards was much closer with 103 for and 94 against.

“From start to finish, from preparation to ratification, this has been a democratic process for obtaining the best treaties,” IATSE International President Matthew Loeb said in a press release (via Variety). “Fierce debate, high turnout and close elections indicate that we have the opportunity to build an unprecedented movement to educate members about our collective bargaining process and encourage more participation in our union in the long run.”

In early October, 90% of IATSE members overwhelmingly voted in favor of the strike after ongoing union negotiations failed. This has brought increased public awareness of the difficult conditions faced by workers helping to make the biggest movies and TV shows. life, many of which they face incredibly long hours and a small backlog for their work, especially in the world streaming service production. However, after the IATSE ordered the strike to begin on Monday, October 18, a last-minute agreement reached the day before led to the union’s withdrawal.

But while from the outside, and at least for Hollywood studies, the disaster seemed to have been avoided, many IATSE members spent the past month fiercely criticizing the deal, saying its gains had not gone far enough given the retrospective largely pushed by the union to use the strike as a negotiating tactic. Criticisms of the now ratified agreement point out that the contract does not penalize productions that exceed and cancel lunch breaks severely enough – only new penalties come after eight consecutive hours without a break and without changes to the previously set six-hour mark penalty. Other critics pointed out that the remnants of streaming for updated pension and health plans, which were the main target of criticism after the vote for the strike, were also missing.

These IATSE members have clearly expressed their dissatisfaction with today’s voting results, with such a divided membership emphasizing that the gains made in the new contract are not enough for a large number of workers. However, it is unlikely that this dissatisfied base will now be able to provide more benefits for some time: a new round of contract negotiations will not begin until 2024.

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Naveen Kumar

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