TOLUCA LAKE, March 9 – Thomas C. Short, President of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes (IATSE), announced the overwhelming ratification by IATSE members of the Basic Hollywood Agreement covering 30,000 workers in 17 locals employed in motion picture and television production. The new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) takes effect August 1, 2006 and runs through July 31, 2009.
Better than two-thirds of the members voting cast ballots in favor of ratification. “The new IATSE contract for members working in motion picture and television production is quite frankly, the envy of the industry,” said International President Short. “We owe the success of this agreement to most of the IATSE Hollywood locals and the strength that those locals gave us during the hard bargaining over this agreement.”
After International President Short successfully concluded early negotiations December 16, representatives of the 17 IATSE locals on the negotiating team voted 54 to 1 to recommend ratification of the new contract to the membership of their individual locals.
The Hollywood Basic Agreement, the dominant collective bargaining agreement between Hollywood producers and IATSE workers, includes substantial wage increases of 75 cents per hour in the first year, and 3% in years two and three of the agreement, with those percentage increases compounded.
Benefit gains include increases of .5% in the second year and .5% in the third year in the Individual Account Plan (IAP) and a 25-cent-per-hour increase in contributions to the Defined Benefit Pension Plan. Increased contributions to the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan include an additional 25 cents per hour, allowing for the continuation of health care premiums to be paid 100% by the employer.
Trustees of the Pension Plan were given recommendations that will allow retirees to receive a “13th and 14th” check during the full term of the agreement provided the level of reserves remains at least eight months. Additionally, provided the minimum level of reserves does not drop below eight months by the first quarter of 2009, a 10% increase in pension contributions for active employees will also be made by the producers retroactive to August 1, 2006.
Early negotiations for the Hollywood Basic Agreement have become a tradition for the IATSE under International President Short’s leadership. Concluding a new contract half a year before the current contract expires allows producers to anticipate labor costs well in advance of production and serves to avoid a ramping up of production in anticipation of a labor dispute.
The motion picture and television unions of the IATSE are facing an era of ever changing technology. The IATSE locals must be vigilant to look as far down the road to the future as possible. Some officers in some unions, both inside and outside of the IATSE, have lost touch with what it means to work in the industry or hadn’t worked in the industry long enough to develop the background necessary to represent adequately their working membership before being elected to office.
“We have a couple of local unions that have too many chronically unemployed or retired officers and officers with issues that have kept them from working in the industry,” said International President Short. “I’m convinced that we need to make certain that the elected officers of our local unions work in the industry for a certain amount of time to be eligible to run for office. We don’t want to end up emulating the Writers Guild West and Screen Actors Guild – guilds run by certain officers who don’t work in the industry.”
“When I look down the road to the future of the IATSE, I see that only knowledgeable leadership on the local level, real leaders who are working members able to communicate with working members, can make us stronger,” International President Short said.