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War of words escalates between producers group and crews union

The Hollywood sign.
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

Some might call it fighting talk.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers issued a rare statement Thursday accusing the union representing some 60,000 film crews of mischaracterizing the status of their negotiations.

On September 21, when it announced plans to seek a strike authorization vote, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said the AMPTP had told the union that it would make no further changes to its position.

IATSE made similar statements to the 13 West Coast locals about the status of talks regarding their so-called basic agreement, which applies to about 43,000 workers; as well as to the 23 locals representing 17,000 workers outside of Los Angeles and New York.

But the AMPTP denied the claim, saying that the two sides had not been in touch about that proposed contract, referring to the national negotiations, since they agreed to suspend talks on Sept. 3. Both contracts expired July 31 and were extended to allow more time for bargaining.

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“It is unfortunate that IATSE has gone down the path of publishing false information,” the producers alliance said. “This approach unnecessarily polarizes the bargaining parties and elevates tensions at a time when we should be focused on finding ways to avoid a strike.”

IATSE declined to comment.

IATSE is moving ahead with a vote to strike Hollywood productions.

The rising tensions come as IATSE has mobilized its thousands of members to prepare to support a strike that could paralyze the industry just when Hollywood is trying to get back on its feet.

Crews are fighting for better pay from streaming companies, greater contributions to health and pension benefits and more rest periods.

IATSE’s proposed action has already garnered support from high-profile Hollywood actors and creators such as Seth Rogan and Jane Fonda, who have thrown their weight behind crews via social media.

Talks over a proposed motion picture and TV contract stalled on Monday and IATSE is due to hold a strike vote on Oct. 1, with the results expected by members to be released on Oct 4.

A strong vote in favor of a strike would give the union’s negotiating committee more leverage to drive a harder bargain with the producers.

Updates

8:23 p.m. Sept. 26, 2021: This post was updated with additional details on the AMPTP’s statement regarding contract negotiations with IATSE.


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