Film production workers narrowly approve new contracts, averting a massive strike


The deals cover technicians, artisans and craftspeople who perform a wide variety of non-acting and non-directing jobs for feature films, television shows and streaming programs. Had the 63,000 union members covered by the contracts gone on strike, it would have been the largest private-sector work stoppage since 2007.

The pair of contracts fulfilled many of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees’ (IATSE) negotiating demands — but there was enough opposition that the deals were nearly rejected. The narrow vote is another indication of the current discontent among many workers, both organized and non-union, over the state of their jobs.

Although there were economic issues involved in the deal — including significant wage improvements for lower-paid union members — many of the changes agreed to by management involved quality of life issues, such as meal breaks, guaranteed time off between shifts and time off on weekends.

The vote, conducted over the last several weeks, resulted in only 50.3% of IATSE members in favor of the deal, with the remaining 49.7% opposed.

Those are the total vote tallies on two contracts with similar terms: one that primarily covers workers on the West Coast, and another that applies to most unionized production workers in the rest of the country.

The West Coast result is a bit complicated: Members actually voted narrowly against the tentative labor contract, with only 49.6% in favor. But because of a complex set of ratification rules, that minority vote was enough to approve the deal. The other contract, covering the rest of the country, passed with 52% voting in favor.

Turnout nationwide was very strong, with 72% of eligible union members casting a ballot.

Much of the “no” vote for the West Coast deal came out of Local 600, the union’s largest local covered by the contract. That group had included cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed last month by a prop gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin, who was not aware the firearm contained a live round. Hutchins’ death revived long standing concerns about workplace safety on film sets.
There are plenty of other recent examples of rank-and-file members voting down tentative labor agreements reached by their union’s leadership. This includes farm and construction equipment maker John Deere (DE), where 10,000 members of the United Auto Workers have been on strike for a bit more than a month. Membership at Deere voted against two tentative agreements, and they are in the process of voting a third time on what the company has termed its best and final offer.
Meanwhile, many nonunion employees are also walking off jobs. The Labor Department reported that a record 4.4 million American workers quit their jobs in September.

Source : CNN