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IATSE local unions ratify new contract with Hollywood studios following internal fighting

IATSE local unions ratify new contract with Hollywood studios following internal fighting
The Motion Picture Editors Guild had earlier recommended that its members vote against the deal, leading to a bitter war of words among International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees guilds. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Members of the local Hollywood guilds that make up the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have voted to ratify a new three-year contract with the studios after a bitter internal fight that pitted the editors guild against other local unions.

IATSE announced late Wednesday that 12 of the 13 local unions voted to ratify the contract. The Motion Picture Editors Guild had earlier recommended that its members vote against the deal, saying the contract fails to adequately address the effects of the streaming media boom on compensation and benefits.

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Details of the deal, which is retroactive to July 31, weren’t released. But IATSE said in its announcement that it includes gains in wages and benefits, as well as “substantial” enhancements to turnaround, which is the rest period between work shifts.

The union said the agreement also includes the option of employer-provided round-trip transportation or housing after long work days, as well as improvements to working conditions on a wide variety of streaming productions.

IATSE represents more than 40,000 technical and crafts workers throughout Hollywood, including editors, cinematographers, set decorators and prop makers. The individual guilds rarely speak out against IATSE leadership, which has historically presented a unified front in its negotiations with studios.

But the editors guild broke with tradition, leading to a vicious war of words between IATSE President Matthew Loeb and Catherine Repola, the editors guild’s national executive director.

Dissent also came from members of Local 871, which represents script supervisors, production coordinators and other crafts workers. Though the guild’s leaders privately urged its members to support the deal, some members spoke out publicly against it, including at a recent gender pay summit in Burbank on Sept. 29.

Despite the internal strife, IATSE had the support of most of the 13 member guilds, and the contract was widely expected to be ratified.

“This contract is a vital step forward in the continued financial health of our retirement benefits and maintains our robust health benefits, with no increased costs to members,” Loeb said in Wednesday’s announcement.

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