IATSE Offers Labor and Infrastructure to White House COVID Response Team to Build Field Vaccination Sites
In January 2021, following the inauguration of President Biden and the release of his COVID-19 vaccination plan, the union facilitated a letter to President Biden and the White Houses’ COVID task force offering the IA’s infrastructure and labor to build field vaccination sites. At the time, workers in live events were almost entirely unable to return to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This effort ultimately resulted in meetings where Union representatives delivered an extensive list of viable union and non-union venues to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In July, IATSE convened its Quadrennial Convention virtually for the very first time, where delegates overwhelmingly supported and passed “the most progressive set of constitutional changes and resolutions in our union’s history,” said the union’s newly re-elected International President Matthew D. Loeb.
In addition to re-electing President Loeb, General Secretary Treasurer James B. Wood, 13 Vice Presidents, three Trustees, and a delegate to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) the business of the convention also focused on winning better healthcare, achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion, advocating for pro-worker and family friendly policy.
Further, the union used the Convention to make several major announcements, including a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee led member census in Spring 2022, adoption of a new equity statement, a new slate of education courses and webinars, a new Canada specific website, and more.
In December 2020, the Met locked out 350 stagehands and others represented by IATSE Local One, even though these workers had not received pay since March 31, 2020 due to the Pandemic. These workers remained locked out until July 2021, when negotiators for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local One and the Metropolitan Opera reached a tentative agreement for a new contract.
Ultimately the contract was the result of overwhelming public support and community solidarity. In May 2021, over a thousand union members and supporters from various IATSE Locals and other unions rallied in front of Lincoln Center Plaza to jointly call for fair contracts and reject management’s union-busting tactics.
This tentative agreement avoided draconian perma-cuts proposed by Met Opera management in exchange for short term relief during the pandemic, and was eventually ratified by members of Local One.
In September 2021, animation workers at Titmouse Vancouver made history by voting to ratify the IATSE’s first animation agreement in Canada. Ballots revealed a resounding 96.9% in support of the new agreement. The agreement will cover approximately 200 workers and also marks the first-ever contract for the recently chartered Animation Guild, IATSE Local 938. Workers at Titmouse voted to join the IATSE last October when over 98% voted in favour of joining the union.
Standing together resulted in success at the bargaining table. Highlights of the 4-year agreement include defined overtime procedures, increased wage minimums, improved annual wage increases, a 15% premium for employees taking on supervisory duties, increased sick/personal days (and the ability to take half-days), and enhanced RRSPs with a lower fee structure.
In June 2021, ‘Team Unite’ was elected as the new leadership of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The team, made up of the UFCW’s Bea Bruske, CUPE’s Lily Chang, and the IATSE’s Siobhan Vipond, was elected by a strong majority of the 4,000+ delegates today, during the final day of CLC Convention 2021. The new leadership was elected to two-year terms.
John M. Lewis, the IATSE’s Director of Canadian Affairs added, “Siobhan has an incredible passion and dedication in fighting for workers and for progressive change. As the former Secretary Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, she’s made huge strides for workers at the municipal and provincial level. I have every confidence that Siobhan and the Team Unite slate will do great things as they lead Canada’s House of Labour.”
In November, negotiators for IATSE Local 868, the Treasurers and Ticket Sellers Union, and Strathmore, Maryland’s world class performing arts center, reached an agreement for a new contract, ending a rancorous two-year dispute between ticket sellers and the Montgomery County venue’s managers.
Throughout the process, the National Labor Relations Board twice determined that Strathmore’s management bargained in bad faith. The NLRB found, among other offenses, that Strathmore’s CEO and lawyer were making proposals solely to avoid reaching an agreement with the union.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), Strathmore’s founding partner and principal tenant, asked Strathmore to resolve the dispute. In order to give the two parties room to settle the dispute, the orchestra moved all of its 2021 performances from the music center to Baltimore.
Montgomery County’s elected leaders, including County Executive Marc Elrich, alarmed by the loss of the BSO and damage to the county’s reputation, used their influence to seek an end to the contract dispute. In the Washington Post’s November 5 story on the venue’s self-imposed crisis, Elrich told the paper that Strathmore is “a county facility and what happens there will reflect on the image of the county.”
The now-ratified agreement preserved full-time and part-time jobs in the ticket office and included future wage increases for all the employees.
The International Labor Communications Association (ILCA) presented the winners for its 2021 Labor Media Awards Thursday, with IATSE being recognized across seven categories, including:
- First Place – General Excellence, Website: IATSE.net
- Second Place – General Excellence, Print Publication: IATSE Official Bulletin
- Second Place – Visual Communications, Best Design of a Website, App or Electronic Publication: IATSE.net
- Second Place – Electronic Media, Best Use of Social Media: @IATSE Twitter
- Third Place – Visual Communications, Best Photo Essay or Gallery: IATSE Met Opera Interactive Virtual Picket Line
- Honorable Mention – Political Action/Organizing Campaign, Best Mail Piece: Watch Donald Trump cross an IATSE Picket Line
- Honorable Mention – Political Action/Organizing Campaign, Best Collateral: Letter Campaign: Tell Congress to include displaced entertainment workers in relief package
Additionally, The Animation Guild, (IATSE TAG Local 839) won First Place for General Excellence – Print Publication by a Union with Under 10,000 members.
After months of negotiating successor contracts to the Producer-IATSE Basic Agreement, and the Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Area Standards Agreement, in October 2021 IATSE members mobilized to hold a near-unanimous strike authorization vote that forced Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to make significant concessions on pay and working conditions. The now-ratified agreements cover a combined 60,000 film and tv workers across the United States.