Editors Guild Exec Director To Recommend “Non-Ratification” Of IATSE’s Tentative Contract Deal – Update
By David Robb
July 26, 2018 3:55pm
2nd UPDATE with IATSE VP’s comments, 3:55 PM: The executive director of IATSE Editors Guild Local 700 is not happy with the tentative contract deal that IATSE struck with producers today. In a communique to her members, Cathy Repola said that the local’s president will be calling a special meeting of the guild’s board of directors, where she will be recommending “non-ratification of this deal to the board.”
“Early this morning,” she wrote, “a totally unnecessary, unacceptable agreement was reached concluding the current Basic Agreement negotiations.
The news comes hours after IATSE and management’s AMPTP announced an agreement on a new film and TV contract. The new three-year deal, which would avert a threatened crippling strike, still must be ratified by the 43,000 members of the union’s 13 Hollywood locals.
“We reached a tentative agreement for a new contract,” said a spokesman for the AMPTP today. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Deadline reported earlier today that not everyone is happy with the tentative deal. “It’s not a deal that [Repola] would want,” said a Local 700 source. Read more of Repola communique to Editors Guild members below.
Meanwhile, at least one labor rep in town is happy with today’s tentative deal.
Thom Davis, business agent of Grips Local 80 and an international vice president of IATSE, said he’s “very proud of this new agreement.” In a letter to his local’s members, who also include crafts services and first aid employees, he said the deal “provides for secure funding of your pension plan. It ensures that your health plan is fully funded. And most importantly, there will be no charges to the health plan and no increase in the premium co-pays.”
He said that the agreement, which was reached at just after 5 AM Thursday, “will provide for better conditions on midlevel-budgeted productions made for streaming; improvements in rest periods; new revenue stream for the pension and health plans from productions made for streaming; wage increases, and courtesy housing or transportation on long work days.”
He added, “I should also tell you that when all of our locals of the IATSE voted on accepting the new contract, all of us voted overwhelmingly to recommend ratification.
Overwhelmingly, perhaps, but not unanimously.
A source at the Editors Guild said: “We are planning a full campaign to reach out to the membership of other locals to explain why this offer must be rejected. Their leadership has failed them, but it’s not a done deal. We’re reaching out to all 43,000 members to send a strong message to the AMPTP, that this offer is not acceptable. The future of our industry is at stake. We must keep fighting.”
In fact, in her letter to the Editors Guild membership, Repola wrote that the funding of the pension plan “was addressed to some extent, but in a way that is short-sighted and will undoubtedly leave us fighting in the next round of negotiations and has the studios putting in very little money over the next cycle. There was no additional hourly pension contribution negotiated. A new ‘New Media Residual’ is included, but it is not what the other guilds (DGA, WGA, SAG-AFTRA) received, and it is impossible to put a value on it. You will likely hear overestimated numbers as to what this proposal is worth, but anyone who tells you for the next contract cycle what it’s worth is guessing.”
The IATSE also had been seeking a 10-hour turnaround between work shifts to curb the industry’s brutally long work hours, and got some relief in this area.
“The change for turnaround is 9 hours for Local 700 and 10 hours for all other locals,” she wrote. “However, this will not apply to pilots and first-season episodics. For features and long-form TV, the provision will only apply if you work two consecutive 14-hour days. None of this will apply to any on-call employees. An additional hour of straight time pay is the only penalty if the ninth hour is invaded.” This part of the deal, she said, does not impact the existing 10-your turnaround for the guild’s New York-based members.
Repola also said she was also unhappy with the deal struck on increases to the union’s health plan. “Our side agreed, with strong opposition from me, that all signatories of the agreement (excepting the major studios and any other companies they designate) will be subject to a $0.75 per hour contribution increase to the health plan each year of the agreement and resulting in a $2.25 per contribution hour increase by the third year. This will have a detrimental impact on our members who work at and own independent post facilities – sound houses, trailer editing, music editing, digital companies, and employee shareholders – because escalating their overhead costs will likely result in decreased employment. This will also make organizing non-union companies more difficult. This allows the studios to put a burden on smaller companies while avoiding any substantial contributions to the plans themselves.”
And she certainly isn’t alone in opposing the new tentative deal.
“We ended up with the same deal that was offered two months ago,” another Local 700 source told Deadline. “Standard increases with no real solution to address the future of the pension and health plans. The new residuals revenue for steaming is bullshit — a convoluted calculation that will result in little actual dollar value. All we wanted was the same deal WGA and DGA were given. This is an absolute disgrace.”
Prior to the resumption of contract talks this week, Repola told her members that she was “skeptical” that a deal could be reached without a strike. “I wish I could say I am hopeful we will reach an acceptable agreement, but based on the direction this has been heading, I am skeptical at this time,” she said. “If we are unable to reach agreement, the IA will send out a strike authorization vote.”
“Negotiations are at an existential crisis,” Editors Guild president Alan Heim told the cheering crowd of 2,000 members at their meeting Saturday. “This is the first time in my many years as a union member that I feel the studios are not dealing in good faith.”
Repola and others had been arguing for a new formula to capture residuals from shows aired on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu to help fund the union ailing pension plan, which is fast approaching “critical” status.
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