IATSE Local 161 Accountants Campaign
Production accountants are professionals who manage finances for a variety of entertainment productions, including film, television, and commercials. There are several roles within accounting departments, including Production Accountants, First Assistant Accountants, Second Assistant Accountants, Payroll Accountants, Assistant Payroll Accountants, Post Production Accountants, Controllers, and Clerks. Accountants currently face a variety of workplace issues, including a nationwide shortage of qualified accountants, understaffing within productions, lack of craft skills training, dysfunction at payroll companies, splitting of benefit contributions between multiple benefit funds, exhaustion, burnout, and more. To date, employers have done nothing to address these concerns.
Production accountants were first organized into IATSE Local 161 in 1974. Since then, they’ve become a significant portion of the local’s membership, now making up over 40% of Local 161. However, accountants are only a recognized craft in two IATSE contracts: the Low Budget Theatrical Agreement and Pay TV Contract. They are excluded from contracts that cover many of the largest productions in the industry: the Basic, Majors, and Area Standards Agreements. On these productions, Accountants have only been recognized through side letters, which must be negotiated on a project-by-project basis.
This has left a large number of accountants working in Local 161’s jurisdiction outside the umbrella of any collective bargaining agreement, including many members of our Local. Local 161 has long been pushing for recognition of accountants in all of our agreements, but the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has never conceded to this demand. In fact, they are not even required by the NLRB to bargain about this issue –as expansion of the agreement to these additional crafts is a non-mandatory subject of bargaining.
During the 2022 Majors Agreement negotiations, Local 161 again asked the AMPTP to voluntarily expand the agreement to cover accountants, and the AMPTP again refused. In light of this refusal, the issues facing accountants nationally, and the high enthusiasm among Local 161 members for improved conditions, the Local has launched a renewed organizing campaign to win a collective bargaining agreement for accountants. Local 161 has begun collecting authorization cards from accountants around the country, with the goal of winning National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) elections for all accountants who work in the local’s jurisdiction. Once the local is certified as the bargaining representative for accountants in our jurisdiction, we will utilize our full leverage as union members to win a fair contract.
To facilitate this organizing drive and encourage new accountants to become members, the local has waived initiation fees for all accountants until the end of 2022. Whether you are already a member, or still thinking about it, we are asking all Accountants to join the campaign and sign authorization for representation cards here!