Good News: Studios Reach Tentative Deal with Cinematographers Guild, Art Directors Guild

So far, so good on the union negotiations front, but there are still many steps ahead. The fear of yet another labor stoppage has permeated the film and television production community across the country, since IATSE and Teamsters warned of a strike at a rally earlier this month. While there is still a long road ahead before the current contracts expire on July 31, there is positive progress to report.

The International Cinematographer’s Guild came to a tentative agreement yesterday with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in local specific talks. And now, the Art Directors Guild also has a deal of its own, according to Deadline.

Art Directors Guild (ADG) Local 800 President Nelson Coates and ADG Local 800 National Executive Director Chuck Parker declared in a letter sent out to members: “The Local 800 Bargaining Unit wrapped up its in-person three-day negotiations with the AMPTP at 10pm, by reaching a tentative agreement for the Local 800-specific portion of the 2021-24 Basic Agreement.”

This positive news comes on the heels of IATSE Local 600 announcing to its members that it had reached an agreement with the studios on local-specific issues. The deal comes after just three days of direct talks between the International Cinematographer’s Guild and the AMPTP.

The leadership of the International Cinematographer’s Guild delivered the following update to its members late Wednesday evening: “Today marked the conclusion of our bargaining team’s in-person local negotiations with the AMPTP regarding our Camera and Publicist Agreements,” “We’ve reached a tentative agreement on Local 600 specific issues.”

Negotiations kicked off March 4 with the leadership of IATSE, the Hollywood Teamsters and other crafts guilds meeting with the AMPTP for several days to discuss health and pension benefits, and offer proposals. Then there was a week of caucusing before the first two of the 13 LA Locals sat down at the bargaining table with the studios, according to Deadline.

What’s Next for IATSE and the AMPTP

There is still a long road of negotiations ahead, as thirteen IATSE locals work under the Basic Agreement, including the aforementioned International Cinematographers Guild and the Motion Picture Editors Guild. Another 23 locals around the country work under a parallel contract called the Area Standards Agreement.

Negotiations are expected to focus on wage increases and “quality of life” issues surrounding the hours worked on set, including meal penalties and turnaround times, as well as the threat of AI taking jobs away from union members.

“Continuing to build on this success through the month of April is crucial as we will return to the table in May to negotiate for benefits and general terms and conditions of employment affecting us all that will complete the 2021-24 Basic Agreement,” Local 800 President Nelson Coates and ADG Local 800 National Executive Director Chuck Parker stated Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700) is expected to begin negotiations with the AMPTP this week, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said Wednesday, under a strategy where ”two locals will negotiate simultaneously at any given time” with the studios over the next month.

Despite the positive steps forward, make no mistake that the prospect of a labor stoppage is still a possibility. “We are not afraid to strike,” Sean O’Brien, the president of the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters, declared at the union rally earlier this month. “If these greedy corporations — whether it’s Amazon, Netflix, Sony… Disney — if they choose not to reward our members, they are putting themselves on strike. We will put them on their back, on their knees, begging for mercy.”

The current contracts are set to end July 31. Overall, around 60,000 industry-related IATSE members are affected by the contracts.

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