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Commercial Producers Ink Neutrality Agreement With IATSE On Union Workers

Crew union IATSE and the negotiating representative for commercial production and post-production companies, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, have signed a neutrality agreement for organizing production staff for TV commercials.

The grassroots group Stand With Production, which has partnered with IATSE on the organizing campaign, announced the deal to its supporters in an email on Friday, and IATSE confirmed the news. A neutrality agreement essentially means that the employer (in this case the AICP) agrees not to oppose a union drive led by Stand With Production and IATSE.

“AICP can confirm that it has entered into a neutrality agreement with IATSE,” the organization said in a statement: The Hollywood Reportr. “AICP has agreed that if it is truly the will of our trusted employees to be represented by a union for their commitment, we will negotiate to find reasonable working conditions.”

In this case, as part of the deal, the AICP also agreed to voluntarily recognize the union if the group collects a majority of union cards, in a process overseen by an outside arbitrator. TV commercial production staff must have worked for two months in the past 12 months to sign cards.

“The AICP has signed a neutrality agreement regarding Stand With Production, giving freelance TV commercial production workers across the country a fair chance to democratically decide whether we want a union for ourselves,” Stand With Production told supporters on Friday. In other words, we are NOW closer than ever to opening the way to basic standards for our union workers. With your support, we can seize this unprecedented opportunity and work together to build a better, safer and more sustainable industry.”

The deal between the two sides quells tensions that erupted when a group of manufacturing workers announced in July that they planned to union with IATSE. Later that month, AICP President and CEO Matt Miller wrote in a letter to AICP members that the “AICP strongly believes that a union effort among freelance production workers will harm those individuals it claims will help.” Miller went on to say that the Stand With Production group used “false messages” and “exaggerated examples” and that the messages were “designed to put pressure” on gig workers to join the movement. (IATSE communications director Jonas Loeb replied, “It’s unfortunate, but laughably predictable, to see the same topics of conversation destroying unions that we’ve seen for decades.”)

Stand With Production, a group that began coming together after two production staff walked away from a major commercial shoot in the fall of 2021, is trying to unite production assistants, assistant production supervisors, production supervisors, line producers and bid producers for TV commercials across the country. They have called for extended rest periods, safety training, higher minimum wages, union health and pension schemes, and diversity and mentorship initiatives.

“The pandemic has really shown us all the cracks in our system,” Stand With Production supporter and line producer Josh Jupiter told us earlier. The Hollywood Reporter. He added that a union can enforce “respect for time and being realistic about what we as humans can do with our time.”

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