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Hollywood Crew Members Express Conflicting Emotions About Tentative New Contract

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Before the news came down that International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees had reached a tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Saturday, many workers didn't know if they'd be reporting to work or to the picket lines on Monday.

IATSE is the union that represents the film industry's crew members. Union member Olga Lexell, a writers' assistant and script coordinator, is currently working on a shoot in Atlanta.

"I was literally writing picket line chants, anticipating to fly back and lead a picket," she said.

Lexell, like some other members of the union, said she's waiting to see all the details of the deal before determining how she feels about it, but is excited there's more awareness ... of the low wages many below-the-line workers make, and the fact that they don't get enough rest between shifts.

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"I hope there's going to be a cultural shift in the industry, regardless of what's in the deal or not," she said. "I hope that people can realize that they can change things without there being a deal that requires them to do so."

Other union members expressed conflicting emotions as well.

"This contract isn't going to necessarily transform our industry, and I think that is sincerely what people want," said costumer Andrea Wheeler.

Production coordinator Ali Noyes said she's happy that some of the lowest paid workers will see wage gains under this agreement, but she's not sure its enough.

"Whether that means we're going to ratify this contract and then work harder on higher rates for the next time, in three years, I don't know," she said.

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Editor Zack Arnold said he was disappointed to hear the terms of the tentative deal.

"[There was] almost zero movement as far as quality of life and hours are concerned," he said. "But bigger picture, if we're talking about actual residuals and getting a piece of a much larger pie that is streaming, that's going to affect not only me when I retire, but it's going to affect my son and other people's kids and the next generation to come in."

He adds that there was miscommunication about what was on the bargaining table.

"So many people were expecting that we were going to get shorter workdays and much more severe penalties [for] meal breaks, or lack thereof," he said. "And what we've now learned, after the fact, is that many of the items we thought were on the table" were not.

The tentative agreement still has to be ratified in a vote by IATSE members, which could take several weeks.

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