With the writers and actors strike resolutions just a few months in the past, Hollywood studios — still licking their financial wounds — are looking to avoid another work stoppage.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are set to start negotiations on two labor contracts — the Basic Agreement and the Area Standards Agreement — on March 4.
Talks will be centered around The Motion Picture Pension and Health Plan (MPIPHP or MPI) benefits. IATSE wants to secure more streaming-based funding mechanisms, increase retirement accrual rates, and stop health coverage cuts.
“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,” Michael Miller, IATSE’s vice president, said in a statement in January.
The current contracts are set to expire July 31. If negotiations don’t go well, IATSE is ready to go on strike.
“The Negotiating Committee is not interested in extending this agreement beyond the July 31 expiration. Depending on the status of negotiations around this time, there will either be a strike authorization vote, or a ratification vote,” IATSE said on its website.
Other organizations in the entertainment industry have joined IATSE in solidarity, including Teamsters Local 399 and The Hollywood Basic Crafts. The latter two groups are set to negotiate with the AMPTP in early June for other specific issues.
“Our members are the backbone of production,” Lindsay Dougherty, Teamsters Local 399 principal officer, and chairperson of the Hollywood Basic Crafts, said in an earlier statement. “They give their blood, sweat and tears to this industry. They are owed the ability to retire with dignity and have the stability of plan funding to protect and increase benefits.”
IATSE represents 170,000 technicians, artisans, and craftspersons. Teamsters Local 399 represents 6,500 entertainment industry workers including animal trainers and handlers, casting professionals, chef assistants, mechanics, warehouse workers, and drivers. Hollywood Basic Crafts is made up of multiple groups representing another 8,000 entertainment industry works.
In short, if IATSE goes on strike, it would be another massive blow to Hollywood, and it seems like some studio executives are already concerned.
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said he hopes a work stoppage can be avoided.
“Nobody really wins in a strike, honestly. We’re hoping that this strike won’t happen because we’ve got to keep growing this business and innovating,” Feltheimer said in response to a Wall Street analyst’s question during the company’s recent earnings call.
Feltheimer went on to say that he’s “crossing his fingers and hopeful” that there won’t be a strike.
“Fighting alongside IATSE on shared MPIPHP benefits will not only support all Hollywood crewmembers, but also remind the employers that when they can’t divide us, they should fear us. Nothing moves without the crew,” Dougherty said.
Image credit: IATSE