EXCLUSIVE: Long before the Harvey Weinstein scandal made international headlines, Hollywood’s employers and unions were taking steps to reduce sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. The industry, it turns out, was not asleep at the switch ahead of one of the biggest scandals in Hollywood’s history.
“We were very much ahead of the curve,” said Carol Lombardini, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, which negotiates collective bargaining agreements with all of Hollywood’s guilds and unions. “We have approached every group in the last bargaining cycle about sexual harassment prevention training.”
Lombardini, who this month took part in the first meeting of the new Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace – to be chaired by Anita Hill – told Deadline she has been discussing the problem with the unions “long before it became the subject of headlines. We discussed it with everybody. We discussed it with the WGA, we discussed it with the DGA, and we discussed it with SAG-AFTRA.”
The major studios and networks have long had sexual harassment prevention programs in place for their supervisors, but beginning in 2015 – and unreported until now – the AMPTP began codifying mandatory anti-harassment training into all the unions’ contracts as well.
The AMPTP and the IATSE established a sexual harassment prevention training program as part of their 2015 collective bargaining agreement, and that program began rolling out in January. The contract requires all Hollywood members of IATSE to take an online sexual harassment prevention course to remain on the industry’s experience roster, and they can’t work until the course has been successfully completed. Union members are also paid a small stipend for taking the course.
Lombardini said the AMPTP plans to take IATSE’s sexual harassment prevention training nationwide next year in negotiations with the below-the-line union for a new Area Standards Agreement. She’s also working with unions in British Columbia to adopt a similar program. “We’ve been talking about harassment training there as well,” she said. “As the bargaining cycle continues, this will be rolled out on a nationwide and contentment continent-wide basis too.”
The AMPTP’s 2015 contract with Hollywood’s Teamsters Local 399 also mandates online sexual harassment training.
“The IATSE is the first testing ground and the training will be made available to the DGA and the WGA as well,” Lombardini said. “We’ve been talking to the DGA about all the details.”
The memorandum of agreement for the new DGA film and TV contract, which was ratified in January, states that “The DGA and AMPTP agree to continue their discussions of the employers’ efforts to develop an online sexual harassment prevention training course for employees. The parties will continue to discuss issues related to funding, a stipend, administrative details and record-keeping requirements for the training course.”
A DGA spokesperson noted the guild and the AMPTP began discussions on sexual harassment prevention training well before the last round of negotiations.
The memorandum of agreement for the new WGA film and TV contract, which was ratified in May, states that “During the 2017 negotiations, the parties reached an understanding that the companies will be implementing a mandatory online sexual harassment prevention training program during the term of the successor agreement to the 2014 minimum basic agreement.”
SAG-AFTRA’s new film and TV contract, ratified in August, also adopted sexual harassment prevention training for stunt coordinators, who recommend the hiring of stunt performers and oversee their work. The guild’s new contract with the AMPTP states that “The parties reached an understanding that producers will be implementing a mandatory online harassment prevention training program for stunt coordinators to commence during the term of the agreement.”
The unions and guilds have expressed horror and outrage over Weinstein’s decades of alleged abuse, and are all redoubling efforts to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Online anti-harassment training won’t solve the problem by itself, but the fact that they and the AMPTP were “ahead of the curve” before the scandal broke is proof, at least, that the problem had not gone unrecognized.
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