IATSE, studios reach tentative contract deal

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The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the major studios have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that averts a potential showdown.

The so-called basic agreement covers about 35,000 members who belong to IATSE’s Hollywood locals and includes camera operators, set decorators, grips and others who work behind the scenes on movies and TV shows.

Under the proposed deal reached late last night, IATSE members would receive a 2% annual wage increase over three years — in line with raises negotiated by other entertainment unions. Employers agreed to a 20% increase in their hourly contribution to the union’s health plan.

“Our goals going into these negotiations have been met,” IATSE President Matt Loeb said in a statement. “We were successful in maintaining the pensions of our retirees.”

Members with dependents, however, would also be required for the first time to pay premiums of $25 to $50 a month for healthcare coverage.

The union agreed to the concession as a way to help close a large deficit in its health and pension plans — projected to be more than $350 million over the next three years because of rising investment losses and medical costs. The two sides have been sharply divided over how to close the deficit.

IATSE also agreed to expand the so-called 30-mile zone in Los Angeles — the area that determines work rules and rates paid to union members — to include Agua Dulce and Pomona, among other locations.

If ratified by members, the new three-year contract will take effect Aug. 1.

“We understand how important health and pension benefits are to Hollywood crew members and their families and the risk posed by the projected shortfall in funding those benefits,” the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said in a statement. “We worked diligently with IATSE to resolve the funding crisis and keep these plans financially sound and a vital resource for participants.”