Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Exec Board Meeting - Day Two

Lots more reports on the second day of the IA Executive Board. The take-away from Tuesday's session was the lengthy report on the Motion Picture Health and Pension Plan (kind of important, since it's the pillar by which 42,000 participants get health coverage and a big part of retirement money ....

The Plan has been in solid shape for years, but:

* It took a hit in the actors' commercial strike in 2000. Some of the commercial work that went away during the six-month job action has never come back.

* It took a hit during the 2007-2008 WGA strike.

* After robust investment growth of over 8% over twenty years, investment returns have slowed down in 2008.

* The cost of the MPIPHP's Health Plan has increased every year over the past decade; costs are expected to double in the next eight years.

* The ironically-named "Pension Protection Act of 2006" has made it more difficult for Defined Benefit Plans across the country to avoid the risk of default because the reserve requirements are far higher than they were previously.

The upshot of the report? Although the Plan is well funded, and has had better investment returns over time than other entertainment union plans, the next negotiation (which only got partway done back in April) will require "hard bargaining and creativity on both side of the table."

Over the time I've done this, I've never not heard that there were big problems hammering together a deal for pension and health benefits. But the hard, dollar-and-cents reality is that the rest of this year's IATSE-AMPTP negotiations (that will most likely happen when the SAG soap opera wraps up) will be ... ah ... challenging.


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