Hollywood production workers narrowly approve new contract with studios

Film and TV production crew workers narrowly voted to ratify a new contract with Hollywood and streaming giants over the weekend, ending a labor dispute that nearly led to an unprecedented strike. 

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) said Monday that 56 percent of delegates representing local unions voted for the deal, which will provide workers with better pay and more time for meal breaks and sleep, along with fair compensation for streaming employees.

“Our goal was to achieve fair contracts that work for IATSE members in television and film—that address quality-of-life issues and conditions on the job like rest and meal breaks,” IATSE International President Matthew Loeb said in a statement. “We met our objectives for this round of bargaining and built a strong foundation for future agreements.”

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The union’s members overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike last month after contract talks broke down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents entertainment giants such as Paramount Pictures, Netflix, Warner Bros. and Amazon. 

The two sides later came to a three-year agreement to improve wages and working conditions, avoiding a strike that would have shut down the production of popular TV shows and movies. 

Roughly 72 percent of the union’s membership — around 63,000 workers — cast ballots. The popular vote margin was razor thin, with just 50.3 percent of union members voting for the deal.

Under the contract, production workers will have a minimum 54-hour rest period over the weekend and 10-hour turnaround between shifts, putting an end to brutally long shifts that start on Friday and run into Saturday. They'll also receive 3 percent annual wage increases.

The agreement comes as workers across the country strike for better pay and working conditions, bolstered by the tight labor market that is giving them more leverage in negotiations. More than 10,000 John Deere factory workers are currently in their fifth week on strike after voting down multiple contract agreements.