The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) will team with Hollywood Basic Crafts to begin negotiating their Motion Picture Pension and Health Plan proposals with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in March.
Why is this important for animation? After the pension and health care plan negotiations are resolved, IATSE will begin negotiating its Basic Agreement and Area Standards Agreement with the AMPTP. This is significant for animation workers because The Animation Guild will only start working on its new contract after the IATSE negotiations have concluded.
What key issues will the two unions address in these first negotiations? As was the case in last year’s DGA, WGA, and SAG-AFTRA negotiations, residuals from streaming revenues will be a significant focus of the talks. Unlike agreements secured by the WGA, DGA, and SAG-AFTRA, residuals are not paid directly to crew members but serve as a funding mechanism for the shared Motion Picture Pension and Health Plans. Other priorities mentioned by the unions include boosting retirement accrual rates and fighting off any cuts to health coverage.
Why are these negotiations being handled now? The Motion Picture Pension and Health Plans’ coffers are low because funds were used to support out-of-work union members during the industry shutdown caused by last year’s WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Ensuring that residuals from streaming revenues continue to support the Pension and Health plans is vital.
In a release, IATSE VP Michael Miller explained:
Our benefit plans remain at the forefront of members’ minds. Though the plans took a hit financially due to work stoppages prolonged by the employers in 2023 as well as the pandemic work stoppage in 2020, the trustees of the plan knew funds spent to ensure continuity of workers’ health and retirement benefits was money well spent. It’s important for our unions to be on the same page as we collaboratively negotiate for the plans not only because sustainable benefits are a shared priority of our memberships but also because recent hardships have brought behind-the-scenes crews together in historic fashion.
Is it significant that the two unions are negotiating together? Typically, IATSE negotiates its terms first and independently, although both unions have observed each other’s negotiations in the past. This year will mark the first time the two have negotiated jointly since 1988.
What is Hollywood Basic Crafts? The Hollywood Basic Crafts is a union comprised of Teamsters Local 399, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 40, Laborers International Union of North America Local 724, United Association Plumbers Local 78 and Operating Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association (OPCMIA) Local 755. Job titles covered by the union include drivers, electricians, catering, laborers, cement masons, plumbers, and more.
What happens if the negotiations fail? Speaking at a union leaders panel on labor innovation and technology at CES last month (video below), IATSE international president Matthew Loeb said that another strike is possible if this year’s negotiations stall:
Nothing is off the table, and we’re not going to give up our strength and our ability because they [studios] think they sapped us because everybody’s bank account got sapped because they were unreasonable for months and months. My folks are gonna just settle… Folks are fed up… The studios would be ill-advised to assume that they’ve weakened us to the point that we can’t [strike].