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Streaming Video at the Heart of New Hollywood Labor Agreement

Agreement over a new tentative three-year labor agreement over the weekend between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) not only averted a planned Oct. 18 strike affecting 40,000 film and television workers across 13 unions, the pact underscored Hollywood’s obsession with streaming video and content.

“The Basic and Videotape Agreements” largely involved content production for movies and TV shows distributed via over-the-top video channels for Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Apple, Netflix and Amazon Studios, among others.

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The rush to produce original streaming content has resulted in increased demands on behind-the-camera labor required to make it happen.

The proposed contract addresses core issues, including reasonable rest periods, meal breaks, a living wage for those on the bottom of the pay scale, and significant increases in compensation to be paid by new-media companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Roku, among others.

As content demands increased, production workers lamented that the average work week often ran into the weekend as Fridays and Saturdays became one long workday, or a “Fraturday.” Under the new agreement, film and television workers get retroactive 3% annual wage increases, and minimum of rest periods over the weekend, including 10 hours per 24-hour day.

“Our members will see significant improvements, but our employers also will benefit,” Mike Miller, VP and motion picture director for IATSE, said in a statement. “This settlement allows pre-production, production and post-production to continue without interruption. Workers should have improved morale and be more alert. Health and safety standards have been upgraded.”

Matthew Loeb, president of IATSE International, said the agreement should serve as a model for other workers in the entertainment and tech industries, and for so-called “gig workers.”

“We’re the original gig workers,” Loeb said.

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