NEW YORK—The Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes (IATSE) have finalized a multi-state collective bargaining agreement, which is a supplement to the ongoing West Coast commercials contract. The new pact’s expiration date—Sept. 30, 2004—is the same as that for the West Coast agreement, which was entered into in 2000. Once these two contracts expire, plans call for them—via new negotiations—to become a single IATSE commercials agreement beginning in ’04.
Production company signatories to the West Coast contract aren’t required to sign the multi-state agreement, but they can if they so choose. Shops that aren’t West Coast contract signatories have to sign that agreement in order to become signatories to the multi-state pact.
The multi-state contract encompasses numerous states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The agreement does not cover select markets with pre-existing contracts, such as Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and New York. There are also markets where the new pact co-exists with prior agreements and/or arrangements. For example, related Matt Loeb, IATSE VP/division director, motion picture and television production, the multi-state contract applies to producers who enter Detroit from outside the Detroit area, but the union local negotiates with Detroit-based producers for work done in Detroit.
Likely to remain a bone of contention between the AICP and New York IATSE Locals is the extent of the latter’s charter jurisdiction. For example, the AICP has long contended that IATSE Local 52’s jurisdiction spans a 50-mile radius from New York’s Columbus Circle, while additionally covering Long Island. Local 52, however, claims that its charter jurisdiction extends to such areas as all of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and most of Pennsylvania (excluding Pittsburgh). So even with the multi-state agreement, potential gray areas may still exist between the two parties along parts of the Eastern seaboard.
IMPETUS FOR DEAL
IATSE had initiated a stepped-up organizing effort in U.S. markets not covered by existing commercial contracts. That effort included the union scrutinizing spot producers’ hiring practices throughout the country. Loeb said this has been part of a concerted overall organizing program, dating back to early ’95, that has helped bring about agreements in such areas as commercials on the West Coast, low-budget features and, recently, music videos.
Additionally, related AICP president/CEO Matt Miller, IATSE had been circulating a spot contract for some time in an attempt to organize in states that didn’t already have IA agreements or charters. That contract, said Miller, was not a collective bargaining agreement but instead an IATSE-authored pact—with archaic language—that didn’t have the input of producers. Thus, the AICP’s labor committee thought it prudent to negotiate a multi-state contract to specifically address commercial production like the pact on the West Coast, which came into being in ’96.
After extensive negotiations, the multi-state agreement was fashioned, covering assorted matters, including providing health and pension benefits for workers. According to Miller, the new supplement pact is in line with the IATSE West Coast commercials contract. For example, the multi-state collective bargaining agreement—like the West Coast contract—offers some measure of hiring flexibility. While the multi-state contract specifies that the employer will give “first consideration to qualified persons referred by Local Union affiliates of the IATSE located in the geographic area of a covered production,” it also notes that the producer has certain hiring latitude.
The contract reads, “In recognition of the special conditions in production of television commercials, the Employer may employ persons specifically designated by the advertiser or its agency who are not otherwise entitled to first consideration. Further, the Employer may employ persons not entitled to first consideration where such persons have documented records of prior experience in the production of television commercials … ”
This potentially brings new people into the IATSE membership fold, said Loeb, who added that the new multi-state contract offers “stability” to the production community. “Commercial producers can come into a market, get a crew and not have to deal with a negotiation or a potential labor dispute,” he related. In recent weeks, the AICP has held meetings with all its regional chapters to give member production houses a full rundown of the multi-state IATSE agreement.
The above has been provided by Shoot On Line, by Robert Goldrich