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Hollywood crews reach a new three-year deal with studios

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General view of the Hollywood Sign on November 17, 2020 in Hollywood, California.

AaronP/Bauer-Griffin | GC Images | Getty Images

A deal has been struck between Hollywood’s studios and a union representing its film and television crews that would avert a historic strike that has threatened to shut down production across the industry.

On Saturday, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) announced a new three-year contract that addresses IATSE’s calls for better working hours, safer workplace conditions and improved benefits.

The new contract includes a 10-hour turnaround between shifts, 54 hours of rest over the weekend, increased health and pension plan funding and a 3% rate increase every year for the duration of the contract.

“Everything achieved was because you, the members, stood up and gave us the power to change the course of these negotiations,” IATSE’s leadership wrote in a memo to union members Saturday. “Our solidarity, at both the leadership and rank and file level, was the primary reason that no local was left behind and every priority was addressed.”

The deal must still be ratified by the union’s membership. IATSE is currently working out how the ratification process can be done electronically, according to the memo obtained by NBC News.

It comes less than a day before IATSE’s strike deadline. This strike would have been the first in the union’s 128-year history and the first major crew strike since World War II.

After talks stalled over the summer, IATSE’s membership voted to approve a strike if a deal could not be reached with producers. The union said 90% of eligible voters cast ballots, with more than 98% in support of strike authorization.

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Their demands came on the heels of one of the most tumultuous times in the industry, as productions worked through a global pandemic to ensure studios had content to deliver to consumers.

IATSE represents a wide swath of industry workers, from studio mechanics to wardrobe and make-up artists. In total, it acts on behalf of 150,000 crew members in the U.S. and Canada. Around 60,000 of those are covered by the current TV and film contracts being renegotiated.

An industry-wide strike would have essentially stopped Hollywood production across the country in its tracks, similar to what the writer’s strike did 14 years ago. That strike, between 2007 and 2008, led many shows to shorten or postpone new seasons and led to the cancellation of others.

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