Thousands Of Freelance TV Commercial Production Workers Unionize With IATSE

A majority of some 5,000 freelance TV commercial production workers, organizing under the banner of the grassroots “Stand With Production” movement, have signed authorization cards certifying that they wish to unionize with IATSE. According to IATSE, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) has agreed to voluntarily recognize them as a group for the purposes of collective bargaining.

“From the beginning, the Stand With Production movement has been about finding a way to open a dialogue with the powers that be and codify those solutions into written agreements,” said IATSE President Matt Loeb. “That will now become a reality for thousands of workers.”

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The organizing workers include an estimated 5,000 TV commercial production assistants, line producers, production supervisors, assistant production supervisors and bidding producers. IATSE also announced that it plans to charter a new national Local Union for them.

“These workers came together to address low pay, unsustainable hours, lack of reasonable rest, lack of employer-funded healthcare and retirement benefits, ineligibility for overtime pay, and limited access to safety and training, among other issues,” IATSE said, noting that they are now “set to become the largest contingent of production department workers and entry level production assistants within IATSE.”

While crew positions like production designers/art directors, camera operators, hair and makeup artists, script supervisors, grips, lighting, props, and painters have historically been represented on TV commercial sets by IATSE, workers in the production department historically have not.

Stand With Production’s proposed guidelines for production teams  garnered thousands of petition signatures in 2021, and later announced its partnership with IATSE, which culminated in an IATSE-AICP Neutrality Agreement and Procedures for Voluntary Recognition.

Per that neutrality agreement, the AICP has agreed to immediately and voluntarily recognize these workers’ union and begin negotiations with them as a group. According to IATSE, “The newly organized freelance TV commercial production department workers will enter negotiations with the full support of IATSE and its traditionally represented crafts.”

Loeb had previously stated that “Commercial production workers’ issues are the very same ones this union has fought to address through collective bargaining for decades. As 168,000 strong working in all corners of the entertainment industry, including many who work on commercials directly alongside you, your fight is our fight.”

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