Mar 15, 2024 | News Story

IATSE Wins Victory for Unionizing in Puerto Rico

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG, IATSE Local 600) and IATSE Local 494 have succeeded in thwarting an elaborate effort by local production company La Celda, LLC to chill both the union’s rights and the rights of production crew members in violation of federal labor law.

The legal battle centered around La Celda’s project “Hasta que la celda nos separe,” which recently completed filming in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Despite initial discussions about working with IATSE, La Celda proceeded surreptitiously to commence filming as a nonunion production. IATSE Locals 600 and 494 immediately mobilized an informational picket in support of the crew members.

Incensed at the effectiveness of the Locals’ campaign, La Celda sought and obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Locals by alleging, untruthfully and among other matters, that the Union was intimidating workers. By appearing before a judge in Puerto Rico’s Court of First Instance, the Local was able to set the record straight, arguing that the picketing was lawful, peaceful and protected by not only federal labor laws but also the Constitutions of the United States and Puerto Rico. When confronted with the facts, La Celda relented and agreed to withdraw its damages claim, as well as its request for temporary and permanent injunction against all union defendants, while at the same time recognizing the right of the union to picket and exercise free speech.

IATSE is confident that this decision will not only serve as a reminder to La Celda, but to other production companies filming in Puerto Rico that the union will continue to support and stand with crew members seeking to improve their working conditions. Read more here.