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It's not a wrap for contract talks between IATSE and producers

March 26, 2012 |  5:41 pm

IATSE's Matt Loeb

After two weeks of negotiations, representatives of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the major studios have yet to reach an early deal on a new contract covering technical workers who toil behind the scenes on movies and TV shows.

IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers "have not completed their negotiation for a new Hollywood Basic Agreement,'' the groups said in separate statements Monday afternoon. "The parties need additional time to review data before resuming talks at a later time."

Citing a news blackout, the parties declined to elaborate further on the talks. The proposed contract expires July 31 and covers below-the-line workers, including camera operators, grips and costume designers.

People close to the negotiations say the sides remain divided over how to close a large deficit in the union's health and pension plans -- projected to be at least $300 million over the next three years -- because of investment losses and rising medical costs. The health and pension plans are funded by residual payments and employer contributions.

Union leaders could agree to raise eligibility requirements as they did in back in 2009 when they raised to 400 from 300 the minimum number of hours required to work over a six-month period. But such a move could spark fierce opposition within IATSE.  Union leaders from IATSE and Teamsters, which will also participate in the talks, have been prepping their members for months that they could be forced to accept some tough changes to their health and pension benefits.


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IATSE and Teamsters picket producers of '1000 Ways to Die'

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Matt Loeb, head of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, at the union's office on Riverside Drive in Studio City in 2011. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times