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IATSE and studios are getting ready for new contract negotiations in a race against the clock

IATSE and studios are getting ready for new contract negotiations in a race against the clock

The (IATSE) International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are scheduled to return to the negotiation table on June 24th, with just one month remaining in their existing contracts. This is a step forward, but it also brings to light unresolved issues, mainly with artificial intelligence’s (AI) effects on labour in the business.

After a series of negotiation sessions in May, the IATSE stated that it had reached a “consensus” with the AMPTP on several issues. The function and ramifications of AI in the creation of movies and television shows, however, still pose a formidable challenge. IATSE employees who permanently lose their positions as a result of “technological change” are entitled to severance pay and retraining under current agreements. How these safeguards apply to the changing world of AI-powered automation will be decided by the oncoming negotiations.

IATSE worries that AI will drastically replace the occupations that its members presently hold, which range from editing and animation to special effects and camera operation. To prevent future job losses, the union wants to set clear rules for how studios use AI. This might include retraining program provisions designed to accommodate the move to AI-driven workflows.

The AMPTP, which is a group that represents the big Hollywood studios, probably views the use of AI as a method to cut expenses and improve production procedures. A replay of the tense 2021 contract negotiations, which threatened a national walkout before a last-minute agreement was achieved, will, nevertheless, be avoided by the studios.

Both parties have a lot riding on the forthcoming talks. The IATSE represents a wide range of backstage employees, including editors, costume designers, grips, camera operators, and many more. There might be a tremendous disruption to studios, streaming services, and the entertainment sector overall if there was a work stoppage that essentially stopped film and television production nationwide.

The IATSE-AMPTP discussions have wider ramifications for the future of creative labour than just the urgent worries about job security. Concerns concerning the nature of labour, the competencies needed for future success, and the duty of studios to their employees are brought up by the growing use of AI in the entertainment industry.

Finding common ground between the parties would be necessary for a successful conclusion. While ensuring that the implementation of AI doesn’t jeopardize the livelihoods of its members, IATSE must acknowledge the potential benefits of AI. In response, the AMPTP must show that it is dedicated to the responsible deployment of AI, which entails openness, unambiguous communication with its employees, and a readiness to fund initiatives for retraining and upgrading skills.

From the entertainment business onward, future negotiation sessions will be attentively observed. The decision will have an effect on thousands of IATSE members’ working conditions and job security in addition to setting a standard for how the sector responds to changing technology. The task for the IATSE and the AMPTP, with time running out, is to create a future that benefits employees as well as the studios they work for.