Hollywood workers have created thousands of picket signs in recent days, but they may not need them after all.
The International Alliance of Theater Workers, Film Technicians, Artists and Craftsmen (IATSE) reached an agreement in principle on a new contract with the main film studios on Saturday evening. The union said 60,000 workers would quit work if such a deal had not been reached by midnight Sunday night.
Any provisional contract will still have to be reviewed and ratified by members, which means that further negotiations could take place. If workers were to strike, it would be the biggest work stoppage in the U.S. private sector since 2007.
Jarryd Gonzales, spokesperson for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the industry group representing television and film studios, confirmed the deal to HuffPost. The deadline was first to report that there was an agreement.
The IATSE said the two sides had agreed to a deal covering industry workers in Hollywood, but had yet to finalize a deal for contract workers outside Los Angeles. However, IATSE President Matthew Loeb called it a “Hollywood end” in a statement, suggesting he was convinced the workers would not end up on the picket line.
“We have gone up against some of the richest and most powerful entertainment and tech companies in the world, and now we have a deal with AMPTP that meets the needs of our members,” said Loeb.
The union said the deal for what is known as Hollywood’s “basic deal” includes annual pay increases of 3%; higher remuneration for streaming content; a turnaround time of at least 10 hours between shifts; and at least 54 hours of rest on weekends, among other provisions. The union has not released a full draft of the agreement.
The union said it was still working on a tentative agreement for workers under the so-called “zone standards” agreement, which primarily covers workers outside of Hollywood.
The IATSE represents film and television workers known as “Below the Line” teams because they fall under the well-known actors, directors and producers on the budget sheets. They work as camera technicians, editors, script coordinators, costume designers, and other behind-the-scenes staff who are essential to show business.
The threat of a strike reflected years of frustration with working conditions in Los Angeles and the country’s small movie centers.
Over the past few weeks, IATSE members have shared stories of working over 14 hours and not seeing their families. They demanded stronger protections for rest and recovery. They also wanted to increase the pay scale for work done on streaming projects, as studios were able to pay workers less for this work compared to traditional film and television.
Loeb tell HuffPost last week, that the two sides had made progress in negotiations, but that workers were still determined to secure clauses in the contract discouraging brutally long working days.
“It’s about family life,” Loeb said. “It’s about rest, health and safety at work and getting back from work.
IATSE has had over 30 trading sessions with AMPTP, which includes Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros., Amazon, and other studios.
Earlier this month, the IATSE held a strike vote to determine whether members were prepared to quit their jobs if union negotiators felt the studios were not offering a satisfactory deal. About 90% of eligible members voted and over 98% voted to authorize a strike.