IATSE has taken the next step toward representing freelance TV commercial production department workers.
The union said Thursday that it has sent a formal request to the Association of Independent Commercial Producers to initiate a card count by a neutral third party on behalf of thousands of unionizing freelance TV commercial production department workers. If a majority of workers sign the cards, IATSE will be recognized as their collective bargaining agent.
“The card count is a key step towards officially confirming whether the majority wants a union,” IATSE says on its website. Earlier this year, production department workers announced their partnership with IATSE through the “Stand with Production” movement.
The union already represents crews working on commercials around the country and now is seeking to represent workers employed in commercial production departments, as well. The unionizing workers include production assistants, line producers, production supervisors, assistant production supervisors and bidding producers. The union already represents commercial art directors, camera operators, hair & makeup artists, script supervisors, grips, lighting technicians, props and painters.
It’s been a bumpy road getting this close to unionizing the production department workers, with IATSE at one point accusing the AICP of “union busting.”
“We have been confident a majority in the freelance commercial production community are in favor of unionizing for some time,” said IATSE President Matt Loeb, “yet every day the workers continue signing even more cards to demonstrate they are serious about working with the AICP to build a more standardized, sustainable, and safer industry. It’s no surprise these workers want and deserve many of the same rights and protections their unionized co-workers already have.”
In October, IATSE and the AICP reached an agreement on a new three-year contract covering crew members working on commercials around the country. Under the terms of that deal, they also reached an agreement that could lead to voluntary recognition by the AICP for non-union freelance commercial production department workers. That agreement defines what a unit of eligible workers is and provides that if a majority designate IATSE as their exclusive bargaining representative by signing digital authorization cards, the AICP will recognize the union for purposes of engaging in contract negotiations.