EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood is on the precipice tonight as talks between IATSE and the AMPTP continue in the hope of averting a strike early next week that could bring most of the industry to a standstill. “Assume there will be a strike and hope there isn’t,” Local 800 members were told this afternoon in the first of two planned virtual town halls.
“It looks about 50-50 right now, but that could change quickly either way with the mood in the room,” another source close to the talks told Deadline. At one point earlier this week, it looked like NBCUniversal owner Comcast was the biggest hindrance to a solution. However, the overall situation again has become more fluid — to a point.
With the union having set a deadline of 12:01 a.m. PT Monday for its members to hit the picket lines, the ball soon will be in the producers’ court again.
Deep in the search for a deal to avert a Tinseltown DefCon One, the IATSE negotiating team lead by union boss Matt Loeb is working on handing over its latest proposal to the AMPTP for a new three-year agreement to cover issues of increased pay for the likes of assistants and script coordinators, meal break penalties, increased rest period and more.
“We have had an exchange with our employers and are preparing our response to them,” Art Director Guild members were informed Thursday. Sources close to the talks confirm that AMPTP is expecting a new proposal from IATSE leadership later today or first thing tomorrow. The speed at which AMPTP chief Carol Lombardini responds to that response could set the tenor for the final 60 hours or so of talks.
At the same time, with more than 21 picketing sites planned for Monday morning, IATSE sent members a detailed FAQ on what to do, what to take home, where to be next week and what financial assistance they may or may not be eligible for in the event of a strike.
Despite some generational tensions over truly going on strike, nearly 90% of eligible guild voters in the 60,000-member bargaining unit cast a ballot for a strike authorization between October 1-3. In a result that not even the likes of Vladimir Putin can get in his rigged elections, the smooth and legally conducted IATSE vote came back with 98% in favor of giving Loeb and other leaders the strike authorization they requested.
After weeks of sitting on their hands, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers returned to the virtual bargaining table with IATSE the day after the vote result was announced on October 4. They have been in conversation ever since, but IATSE said Wednesday that if no deal was in place in the opening minute of October 18, it looks like the shut down will begin and the picket signs will go up.
To that end, members are being told today to make sure their time cards are complete and to take their belongings and kits home Friday at the end of the day, if they can.
Already the recipient of support from a lot of A-list talent and hundreds of members of Congress, IATSE got another plug from one of the Senators in the big production hub of the Peach State:
In Georgia and across the nation, @IATSE members work to make our favorite stories and characters come alive onscreen. They are integral to Georgia’s economy and I support their fight to push for fair wages and benefits, which they deserve. #UnionStrong #IATSESolidarity
— Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@SenatorWarnock) October 14, 2021