Hollywood Film Studios and Unions Reach COVID Return-to-Work Agreement
After months of shutdown in Hollywood, filmmakers are ready to get back to work and thankfully the industry has NOW cleared a major hurdle in getting studios back up and running. According to a recent piece in The Hollywood Reporter, after months of negotiations, Hollywood’s top studios and unions came to an agreement about COVID-19 filming protocols Monday. The deal was reach by AMPTP, the Directors Guild, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Teamsters and the Basic Crafts, who’d been bargaining over details of the contract since earlier this Summer.
Back in June the film industry guidelines were first laid out in a white paper which was created by the Industry-Wide-Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force. Members include SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE and the Teamsters. Later a document called “The Safe Way Forward was released by the unions.
The AMPTP which represents the major film studios has been clashing with the top guilds in the industry to approve aspects of COVID-19 related safety protocols. Some of the major areas of conflict included virus testing, who should shoulder the costs of safety, crew sizes, workday caps, COVID-19 managers and sick day compensation.
Sources say that the guilds wanted to protect their members who might become infected by ensuring that the would still be paid for time they would have worked if they became sick. Studios on the other hand wanted to cut costs particularly given rocketing production costs amidst shut downs and new health & safety protocols. Along a similar lines, concerns were centered around the frequency of COVID-19 and who they should be administered to on film projects.
According to the piece in The Hollywood Reporter, the NEW guidelines outline testing regimes, health and safety training requirements, paid sick leave, PPE and more for film productions. The contract also puts into writing many of the measures that have been agreed on over the last few months including craft services serving individually wrapped meals.
Matthew D. Loeb international president of IATSE had this to say regarding the contract negotiations, “Though this process was not easy, unprecedented inter-union collaboration and unwavering solidarity enabled our unions to achieve strong COVID-19 protections that will translate into tangibly safer workplaces,” said Matthew D. Loeb, international president of IATSE.
Gabrielle Carteris SAG-AFTRA president added, “SAG-AFTRA members, along with their peers in other entertainment unions, are anxious to get back to work, but safety has to be the highest priority. This agreement establishes sensible, science-based protocols that allow members to return to doing the work they love while managing risk. I am grateful to our sister unions, who pulled together during this extended crisis, as well as to the studios for collaborating on this important issue.”
Thomas Schlamme, president of the DGA also released a statement saying,“Getting everyone safely back to sets and back to telling stories in these difficult times has been critical for all of us. To overcome the challenges posed by our unique work, we collaborated with our friends at SAG- AFTRA, IATSE and the Teamsters, together with the Producers, to develop a comprehensive set of standards that will allow production to resume while minimizing the risk we, our families and our communities face during this pandemic. It has been a long and complicated journey, and none of it would have been possible without the collaboration and solidarity of our sister guilds and unions.”
Last but not least was Carol Lombardini president of AMPTP who outlined, “The health and safety of those who work in the motion picture and television industry is and remains our top priority. To ensure that employers are able to provide a safe and healthful workplace, the industry — including representatives from Amazon, Apple, CBS, Disney, HBO Max, NBC Universal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. — undertook four months of thoughtful dialogue and meaningful negotiations with the multi-union bargaining committee. We are pleased to announce that this process today culminated in a science-based agreement among the Employers and the multi-union committee on return-to-work protocols for use in the coronavirus era.”
The prolonged talks have resulted in several of Hollywood’s big studios (including Universal and Warner Bros.) having to push back filming plans. This is a story that we’ll continue to follow closely. Readers are encouraged to keep following along with us for further news and updates!
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Source: The Hollywood Reporter