EXCLUSIVE: More than 11,000 IATSE members and their supporters have signed a petition urging IATSE president Matt Loeb to work out a contract with Netflix “that moves us above and beyond” the union’s basic agreement with the major studios and networks. The giant streaming service agreed to bargain with the union last October, but the two sides have yet to reach a deal. Up until now, Netflix has only dealt with the union through third-party companies that have signed IATSE’s basic film and TV agreement.
“We, the undersigned, believe in the strength and leadership of the IATSE,” the petitioners said in letter to Loeb and IATSE vp Mike Miller, who heads up the union’s West Coast office. “The ongoing national Netflix contract negotiations must build on the terms and conditions that already exist in the Basic Agreement to ensure a bright future for the skilled tradespeople who are creating the content of tomorrow.
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“We believe you’ll agree that any and all contract negotiations should strengthen worker conditions and build on existing contracts. This new national contract must not weaken any of our existing working conditions, benefits or wages. Streaming is the future and that future is in your hands. Please fight for us, our families, and a stronger contract that protects us all. We thank you for your time and effort and look forward to a Netflix contract that moves us above and beyond the Basic.” The letter was signed “In Solidarity” by “Your IATSE Brothers and Sisters.”
Protecting the union’s pension plan is a chief concern among many of the signers, as it was in January when members from a dozen IATSE locals urged Loeb “to be relentless” at the bargaining table in order to provide “much needed income to secure the future funding of our pensions.”
Last April, the trustees of the union’s Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan reported that its funding level had dipped to 66.8% — bringing it closer to “critical” condition, which by federal law is defined as anything below 65%, as measured by a plan’s assets divided by its liabilities.
“Protect our pensions. Protect our jobs. That’s your number one job to do. Netflix is not just the future; it’s our present,” wrote one of the petition’s signers.
“Netflix is now in the top tier of powerhouse producers,” wrote another. “Our contracts should reflect the success that our labor has helped to create. Quality of life provisions, rates, vacation pay, should reflect this success. Thank you!”
“The future of our union is at stake here,” said another. “We need to stand strong and be firm in our demands. Our pension money is dwindling to a near emergency situation.”
Last July, Netflix signed its first companywide contract with SAG-AFTRA, which until then had been dealing with the streamer on a production-by-production basis.
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*Headline photo featured in Mr. Robb’s article