The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) will work with Hollywood Basic Crafts to begin negotiating its motion picture pension and health insurance proposals with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in March.
Why is this important for animation? After pension and health plan negotiations are completed, IATSE will begin negotiating its Basic Agreement and Territorial Standards Agreement with the AMPTP. This is significant for animation staff as The Animation Guild will not begin work on their new contract until the IATSE negotiations are complete.
What key issues will the two unions address in these initial negotiations? As with the DGA, WGA and SAG-AFTRA negotiations last year, residual streaming revenue will be a key focus of the discussions. Unlike arrangements secured by the WGA, DGA and SAG-AFTRA, balances are not paid directly to crew members, but rather serve as a funding mechanism for the joint motion picture pension and health insurance plans. Other priorities cited by unions include increasing pension reserves and combating any cuts to health insurance.
Why are these negotiations taking place now? The Motion Picture Pension and Health Plans’ coffers are tight because funds were used to support unemployed union members during the industry shutdown caused by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes last year. It is critical to ensure that leftover streaming revenue continues to support retirement and health insurance plans.
In one releaseIATSE Vice President Michael Miller explained:
Our benefit plans remain a focus for members. Although the plans were financially impacted due to the work stoppages extended by employers in 2023 and the pandemic-related work stoppage in 2020, the plan’s trustees knew that the funds used to ensure the continuity of employees’ health and retirement benefits were well spent . It is important for our unions to be on the same page as we negotiate the plans together, not only because sustainable benefits are a shared priority among our memberships, but also because the recent difficulties have brought the teams together behind the scenes in a historic way have.
Is it important that the two unions negotiate together? Typically, IATSE negotiates its terms first and independently, although both unions have observed each other’s negotiations in the past. This year will be the first time since 1988 that the two have negotiated together.
What is Hollywood Basic Crafts? The Hollywood Basic Crafts is a union consisting of Teamsters Local 399, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 40, Laborers International Union of North America Local 724, United Association Plumbers Local 78 and Operating Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association (OPCMIA) Local 755. Job Occupations covered by the union include drivers, electricians, caterers, laborers, cement masons, plumbers and more.
What happens if negotiations fail? Matthew Loeb, the international president of IATSE, told a panel of union leaders on labor innovation and technology at CES last month (video below) that another strike was possible if this year’s negotiations stalled:
Nothing is off the table and we will not give up our strength and our abilities because they (studios) think they have drained us, because everyone’s bank account has been robbed, because they have been unreasonable for months. My people will just settle… The people are fed up… The studios would be ill-advised to assume that they have weakened us to the point where we can no longer strike.