NEW YORK, NY — Freelance workers in production departments for TV commercials across the United States are set to win voluntary recognition of their union after a neutral third party confirmed a majority of these workers signed cards indicating they wish to unionize with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
The organizing workers include an estimated 5,000 Production Assistants (PA’s), Line Producers, Production Supervisors, Assistant Production Supervisors and Bidding Producers whose work facilitates TV Commercials seen by millions each year and is produced under the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP). These workers came together to address low pay, unsustainable hours, lack of reasonable rest, lack of employer-funded healthcare and retirement benefits, ineligibility for overtime pay, and limited access to safety and training, among other issues.
The Stand With Production group is also set to become the largest contingent of production department workers and entry level Production Assistants within IATSE. While “crew” positions like Production Designers/Art Directors, Camera Operators, Hair and Makeup Artists, Script Supervisors, Grips, Lighting, Props, and Paint have historically been represented on TV commercial sets by IATSE, workers in the production department historically have not. IATSE has announced it plans to charter a new national Local Union for these workers.
‘Stand With Production’ is a grassroots movement of commercial production workers looking to improve deteriorating conditions, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stand With Production’s proposed guidelines for production teams at various commercial production companies garnered thousands of petition signatures in the Fall of 2021. Months later, Stand With Production publicly announced their partnership with IATSE in July 2022, which culminated in an IATSE-AICP Neutrality Agreement and Procedures for Voluntary Recognition in October 2022.
Per the neutrality agreement, now that the freelance tv commercial production workers’ union has been certified to have majority support, the AICP has agreed it will immediately voluntarily recognize these workers’ union and begin negotiations with these workers as a group. Freelance tv commercial production department workers are using their momentum, and discussions about concrete ways to build a safer, more sustainable Commercial Production Industry through collective bargaining are well underway.
The newly organized freelance tv commercial production department workers will enter negotiations with the full support of IATSE and its traditionally represented crafts. IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb previously stated, “Commercial Production Workers’ issues are the very same ones this union has fought to address through collective bargaining for decades. As 168,000 strong working in all corners of the entertainment industry, including many who work on commercials directly alongside you, your fight is our fight.”
Regarding the significant victory for commercial production workers and the union, President Loeb remarked, “From the beginning, the Stand With Production movement has been about finding a way to open a dialogue with the powers that be and codify those solutions into written agreements. That will now become a reality for thousands of workers.“