LOS ANGELES — You might say that the people behind the cameras have found their voices.
Late Saturday, a union representing Hollywood’s version of blue-collar workers — camera operators, makeup artists, prop makers, set dressers, lighting technicians, editors, script coordinators, hairstylists, cinematographers, writers’ assistants — reached a tentative agreement for a new three-year contract with film and television studios, according to officials from both sides.
The union, IATSE, which stands for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, had said that its members would go on strike beginning on Monday, a move that would have resulted in a production shutdown at a particularly inopportune time for the entertainment industry.
The studios, which include stalwarts like Disney, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia and insurgents like Amazon, Apple and Netflix, have been scrambling to make up for lost production time during the coronavirus pandemic. Another shutdown would have left content cupboards dangerously bare — particularly at streaming services, a business that has become crucial to the standing of some of the companies on Wall Street.
IATSE negotiators agreed to a deal after winning concessions on several fronts.
Crews will now receive a minimum of 54 hours of rest on weekends — on par, for the first time, with actors. (Studios were previously not required to give crews weekend rest time, although they were required to pay overtime.) Crews will also receive a minimum rest of 10 hours between leaving a set and being required to return, which IATSE had deemed the rest time essential to personal health, especially since shoots can routinely run as long as 18 hours. The proposed contract also includes pay increases and a commitment by the companies to fund a $400 million deficit in the IATSE pension and health plan without imposing premiums or increasing the cost of health coverage.