On Monday, most workers in Hollywood will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday for the very first time.
MLK Day, observed on the third Monday in January, has been a national holiday since 1986, but it hasn’t been a paid day off for many in the industry until now. It’s still not provided for in most of the unions’ major collective bargaining agreements.
IATSE, representing some 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers, won MLK Day as a paid holiday in its new film and TV contract, which was ratified in November. IATSE president Matt Loeb said, “The IATSE has led other entertainment industry unions and guilds by adding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday in its contract – an accomplishment that we hope will be recognized by the entire industry.”
And just in time for the holiday, the Directors Guild of America said this week that it’s “proud to announce the addition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to the list of paid holidays in the Basic Agreement and the Freelance Live and Tape Television Agreement (for Directors of prime-time dramatic programs and all associate directors and stage managers) – effective this holiday on January 17, 2022.” The guild noted that MLK Day “was previously added as a holiday in the National Commercial Agreement and certain Network News and Sports Agreements.”
SAG-AFTRA doesn’t have it in its basic film and TV contract, but it’s recognized as a paid holiday in its Netflix agreement, dubbing agreement, Interactive Media Agreement (video games/AR/VR) and most broadcast news contracts.
The WGA’s film and TV contract, which covers almost all of the work performed by WGA West members, doesn’t address paid holidays because the pay is for a script, or weekly or for an episode.
And now that IATSE has won MLK Day as a paid holiday, Hollywood’s Teamsters Local 399, which will resume contract talks next week with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, will receive it as well. Its current contract says that “Martin Luther King Day shall be added as a holiday if the Producers agree in negotiations with either the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA or the IATSE (in negotiations for the Producer-IATSE Basic and West Coast Studio Local Agreements) to add same as an additional holiday.”
Members of Local 399 and other unions will be taking part in the MLK Kingdom Day Parade on Monday in downtown Los Angeles, where it will begin at 11am, appropriately enough, on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The theme of this year’s parade is “Healing America.” On its website, Local 399 urges everyone to “join us at this year’s, MLK Day Kingdom Day Parade where we will march together in the streets to the sounds of ‘Happy King Day” while celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the work of #HollywoodTeamsters4MLKDay in the fight to acknowledge this important holiday in our Television and Feature Agreements.”
Born on Jan. 15, 1929, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis after joining striking sanitation workers there in their call for better wages and working conditions.