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IATSE Receives Solidarity Pledge From Global Entertainment Unions As Contract Talks Begin

“Your fight is our fight,” entertainment unions around the world have told IATSE, pledging their support for the group as it kicks off bargaining with Hollywood producers on a new Basic Agreement. Initial talks began last week, and a return to negotiations with the AMPTP is set for March 18. The current contract expires on July 31.

The unions speaking up today are affiliates of UNI Global Union and represent 500,000 workers in 140 unions and guilds across the media, entertainment and arts sector worldwide. IATSE is also a UNI Global Union affiliate.

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In a statement, the UNI Media, Entertainment & Arts Executive Committee said in part: “The member unions across the globe stand in solidarity with our US colleagues as they go into their negotiations for fair pay, decent working conditions and the protection of workers’ rights in the digital environment including the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI). We support your demands and call on the AMPTP to engage with you in a meaningful way to achieve a fair contract. Your fight is our fight. Ensuring fair pay, the protection of our members’ rights and dignity at work are part of the common agenda of all entertainment unions in UNI Global Union, often facing the same global companies.” (See below for the full statement.)

The show of support is not dissimilar to how overseas guilds stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their U.S. counterparts during the writers strike last year.

Noted Christy Hoffman, UNI Global Union General Secretary, “What happens in Hollywood reverberates across the entertainment industry and these negotiations will impact behind-the-scenes workers worldwide. IATSE can begin bargaining with the AMPTP knowing they have got the backing of the global trade union movement and the support of half a million workers in the industry. Last year, we united behind the writers – who are also our members – until they won, and now we are ready to mobilize, cheer and stand by our IATSE siblings as they carry the flag for production crew globally.”

Philippa Childs, Head of the UK entertainment union Bectu and member of the UNI World Executive Board said, “We face the same companies and share the same issues in an industry that is increasingly globalized. The major U.S. studios and streamers are setting patterns and have a huge responsibility for the well-being of the global workforce of the entertainment industry. They need to do better. IATSE are fighting for humane working time arrangements that allow behind-the-scenes crew a life outside work – and that’s something that all entertainment workers, in any country, deserve.”

Miguel Paniagua, General Secretary of the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores del Espectáculo, SUTEP (Argentina) and Regional President for UNI’s Media, Entertainment and Arts sector in the Americas, added, “Cooperation between our unions is important and strong. We work together to raise standards and learn from each other, and we have common goals to make productions safer, more inclusive and free from violence and discrimination. We hope these negotiations will send a strong signal to the Americas region that good faith negotiations between producers and unions are the foundation for a fair and sustainable industry.”

Here’s the full solidarity statement:

The Global Community of Entertainment Unions Stands in Support of IATSE and its Sister Unions

The Executive Committee of UNI Global Union’s Media, Entertainment and Arts sector, on behalf of 140 unions comprising a collective force of 500,000 workers across the many crafts of the entertainment industry worldwide, expresses its resolute solidarity with our colleagues at the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and its sister unions in the United States in support of their efforts to negotiate a fair deal for workers with the AMPTP. 

The behind-the-scenes workers are the backbone of the U.S. entertainment industry, contributing tirelessly to the creation and execution of captivating productions that enrich the lives of audiences globally. IATSE is a driving force of the international union cooperation and solidarity to raise standards and conditions for workers, everywhere. 

Together, we fight for the recognition of trade union rights and to extend collective bargaining to all productions and countries for a sustainable development of the industry and workers’ careers and for a fair, inclusive and safe working environment. 

The member unions across the globe stand in solidarity with our U.S. colleagues as they go into their negotiations for fair pay, decent working conditions and the protection of workers’ rights in the digital environment, including the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI). 

We support your demands and call on the AMPTP to engage with you in a meaningful way to achieve a fair contract. 

Your fight is our fight. Ensuring fair pay, the protection of our members’ rights and dignity at work are part of the common agenda of all entertainment unions in UNI Global Union, often facing the same global companies. 

Workers in our industries have been squeezed during the ongoing transformation to the streaming model. Unions fight higher work pressure, unsustainable remuneration models and unsafe working hours and deadlines, which are common features of production in the global economy. 

We stand united in acknowledging the profound impact of generative AI on the future of our industry. As technological advancements continue to reshape the entertainment landscape, it is incumbent upon unions to ensure that the deployment of generative AI is based on a human-centred approach guided by principles of equity and fairness. 

To this end, we demand the inclusion of provisions in negotiations everywhere that guarantee workers’ rights to consent, meaningful participation and full transparency in the development and deployment of generative AI technologies. Fair compensation mechanisms must be established to ensure that the benefits derived from AI innovation are equitably shared with workers. 

We stand shoulder to shoulder with IATSE as they champion the rights and dignity of entertainment workers. 

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