A few months after film and television music supervisors kicked off a national worker organizing drive, a group that works with Netflix has filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board.
A number of music supervisors who are currently working with or have recently worked with the streamer on a project-by-project basis are seeking to be represented in collective bargaining by IATSE, the major crew union that represents music editors, camera crews, script supervisors and other crafts. (No in-house workers are included in the current effort.) According to IATSE, “an overwhelming majority” of music supervisors recently and now affiliated with the company asked the company for voluntary recognition, which Netflix rebuffed, so the group is now seeking to join IATSE through the NLRB process.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Netflix for comment.
Music supervisors at the company are seeking to “standardize pay rates,” join IATSE healthcare and retirement plans and “address structures that enable studios to delay workers’ pay for months at a time” with their unionization effort at Netflix, among other goals. As THR has previously reported, financial stresses and the craft’s dearth of union-provided healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic helped inspire the national union drive, which had been in the works for two and a half years before it was officially launched in June.
The Netflix petition is the first time that this group of organizing workers has filed for an NLRB election. Per IATSE, the streamer “is presently the largest employer of Music Supervisors out of any studio in the AMPTP,” referring to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the bargaining representative for studios and streamers with unions.
Workers involved in the craft-wide unionization effort have previously said that they at one point asked the AMPTP itself for voluntary recognition, which the AMPTP declined. The Netflix election petition suggests workers will now attempt to organize their field employer by employer. If the NLRB grants an election, the Board will determine the size of the potential bargaining unit for music supervisors at the streamer.
Music supervisors curate and/or oversee the recording of music that appears in films and in television shows and manage negotiations for the use of preexisting music. The craft entered the spotlight in the late spring and early summer when several prominent appearances of Kate Bush’s “Running Up that Hill (A Deal With God)” during the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things prompted a major surge in streams for the 1985 single and subsequent news coverage.
IATSE claimed in June that 75 percent of an estimated 500 working music supervisors nationwide have signed union authorization cards and therefore signaled their support for the IATSE drive.