To put those gains into context, last year, when SAG-AFTRA negotiated its new film and TV contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the actors union said that its deal contained a “record breaking” $318 million in gains for members.
IATSE’s new deal, however, is expected to top that figure in additional employer contributions to its pension and health plan alone. “For the term of the agreement,” IATSE says, “ongoing hourly contribution increases resulting in $370 million in new money over the three years of the contract. This will keep our Plans funded, with no reduction of benefits or increases to qualifications or premiums.”
Annual 3% pay raises called for in IATSE’s proposed new Basic Agreement – covering members of the union 13 West Coast studio locals – could add several hundred million more dollars to members’ paychecks during the next three years. Hourly pay rates vary depending on job classifications, but average somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 an hour, and much higher for some crafts.
According to the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan, some 87,000 participants – most of whom are IATSE members based in Hollywood – worked a record 100.5 million hours in 2018. That figure includes hours worked by members of several other unions and IATSE locals not covered by the new agreement, but well over three-quarters of those 100.5 million hours are believed to have been worked by IATSE members covered by the contract.
If only 75 million hours – at $40 an hour – are worked each year under the new Basic Agreement, a nearly 10% pay raise over three years would generate an additional $300 million. And that’s only for the Basic Agreement. Thousands of other IATSE members work each year under the union’s separate Area Standards Agreement, which covers 23 locals outside Los Angeles. They’ll also be getting 3% wage hikes, compounded annually, for three years, which will generate many more millions of dollars for members.
The Basic Agreement also provides outsized pay raises for the lowest-paid members of Local 871, which represents some 3,000 script supervisors; production, script and art department coordinators; accountants; and writers’ assistants. Many of them, who are making barely more than minimum wage now, will receive significant pay raises in each year of the agreement, resulting in a rate of $26 per hour by the third year of the contract.
Increased meal penalties contained in the new agreement also could result in more money for members — though those penalties could be stiff enough to prompt employers to feed their workers on time, which could result in fewer penalties.
And then there’s the additional wage increases – by as much as 30% for some job classifications – on high-budget streaming shows and features that will add many more millions of dollars in additional revenues for members.
IATSE leaders call the economic gains “unprecedented” and are urging that their members ratify the proposed new agreements, saying that they are “proud” of what they achieved at the bargaining table.
“We believe that we built upon the success in the Basic Agreement negotiations to further achieve unprecedented economic gains and working condition improvements for our members working under the Area Standards Agreement. So we stand united in recommending a Yes vote on this agreement.
“To those of you uncertain if we pushed far enough in these negotiations, we hear you. We recognize that there are more issues that need to be addressed. Ratification of this agreement will allow us to do just that – move forward in unity to continue seeking significant gains in the future. Our ability to continue with that success depends on our ability to stay united rather than divided. A divided membership only emboldens the employers to keep challenging our priorities. Let’s move forward together and continue to compound our gains as we advocate for long overdue cultural change in the industry.”
Ratification of the tentative agreements will go to the members on November 12, and the votes will be counted November 15. If members reject the agreements, it would be the first time in Hollywood’s history that members have voted against the recommendation of their leaders on the ratification of a major contract.