Hollywood Crews Unite for Collective Bargaining on Health and Pension Plans

LOS ANGELES, California – Negotiations for new union contracts with Hollywood crews are set to kick off in early March, with a focus on addressing the financial strain experienced by the pension and health funds after last year’s writers and actors strikes.

In an unprecedented move, all of the “below the line” guilds — including IATSE, the Teamsters, and the other “Basic Crafts” unions — will collaborate to collectively bargain on health and pension issues for the first week of talks in March, the unions announced Wednesday.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees will then proceed to bargain separately on issues affecting its 13 West Coast locals. Following this, the Basic Crafts locals, which include electricians, drivers, plasterers, laborers, and plumbers, will negotiate their issues in early June.

Both contracts are set to expire on July 31, and the unions have expressed reluctance to grant extensions, a departure from previous years. Expectations are that bargaining with the major studios will be contentious, given the significant hit both sides took last year.

All the below-the-line guilds participate in the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans, covering 75,000 active members and retirees and funded through employer contributions. With last year’s shutdown of scripted production, the flow of money into the plans was notably curtailed, while the plans incurred significant costs to extend health benefits to workers affected by the strikes.

Looking ahead, the unions are aiming to increase funding from streaming shows into the plans, with below-the-line workers not receiving residuals but employers paying the equivalent into the benefit plans. Additionally, the unions are striving to prevent any cutbacks in health coverage as they prepare to negotiate these issues collaboratively for the first time since 1988.