Relations between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, IATSE, and the major studios took a turn for the worse Wednesday, as the head of the union issued an unusually blunt warning to employers over their handling of contract negotiations.
Since a deadline lapsed Friday night, talks have reached a critical juncture, the union’s international president, Matthew Loeb, said in a statement Wednesday. The IATSE’s general executive board unanimously voted to resource and support any actions necessary to win an agreement in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, AMPTP, he said.
“The importance of these negotiations cannot be understated,” said Loeb, whose union represents 150,000 crew members in the U.S and Canada. About 60,000 of them are covered by the motion picture and TV contracts being renegotiated, 40% of the membership. He argued the results would have far-reaching consequences. “It is not a fight any of us can afford to sit out.”
The producers and the union have already spent four months trying to come to terms on a new basic agreement that governs working conditions and pay, as well as benefit contributions. The contract was extended from July 31 to Sept. 10. Since then, the IATSE West Coast studio locals have been updating their members on what has been described as an unprecedented situation and asking them to prepare for a possible strike vote.
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