LOS ANGELES, CA – Workers in production departments for TV commercials across the United States are going public with their union with the backing of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Stand With Production movement. The unionizing workers include Production Assistants (PA’s), Line Producers, Production Supervisors, Assistant Production Supervisors, and others whose work facilitates TV Commercials seen by millions each year and produced under the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP).
These workers are joining together to address unsustainable hours, lack of reasonable rest, no employer-funded healthcare and retirement benefits, ineligibility for overtime pay, and limited access to safety and training. IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb said, “Commercial Production Workers’ issues are the very same ones this union has fought to address through collective bargaining for decades. As 160,000 strong working in all corners of the entertainment industry, including many who work on commercials directly alongside you, your fight is our fight.”
While “crew” positions like Production Designers/Art Directors, Camera Operators, Hair and Makeup Artists, Script Supervisors, Grips, Lighting, Props, and Paint have historically been represented on TV commercial sets by IATSE, workers in the production department historically have not. “Our community is coming together to create a pathway to the basic standards afforded to our unionized co-workers. This includes the right to be paid for all the days we work, to receive overtime and adequate rest time, to be paid day rates reflective of the current market with yearly pay increases, and access to retirement and pension plans so we can retire with dignity,” said a spokesperson for Stand With Production.
Stand With Production is a grassroots movement of commercial production workers looking to improve deteriorating conditions, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their proposed guidelines for production teams at various commercial production companies garnered thousands of petition signatures, and to date the organization has raised nearly $80,000 for its cause. While production rates have increased somewhat since the guidelines were released, only a union has the legal power to negotiate on equal footing with the AICP to codify industry-wide improvements into a binding contract.
Other sectors of entertainment are seeing aggressive efforts to unionize production staffers as well. Recently, The Animation Guild (IATSE Local 839) successfully organized production managers, production supervisors, production coordinators, and production assistants (notably the same job titles as the unionizing commercial production workers) for The Simpsons, American Dad!, Family Guy, Rick and Morty, Titmouse New York, Titmouse L.A., ShadowMachine, and Solar Opposites.
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The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE (full name: International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada), is a labor union representing over 160,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live events, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada.