Following successful negotiations, Casting Directors from New York and Los Angeles voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Business Agent Steve Dayan stated to members: “We made gains in pension and health benefits which are so critically important today.”

The fourteen-member negotiating committee worked diligently to increase pay for associates, and protect and improve health and retirement benefits. Effective October 2nd, 2011, the new provisions of the contract include additional contributions to members pension funds as well as increases in health benefit contributions to keep current with those ever rising costs of health care.

During the meeting with Casting Directors in Los An­geles on September 15, steering committee member Margie Simkin praised the negotiating team, stating: “You guys did a phenomenal job keeping our benefits intact.”

The ratified agreement is effective from October 2, 2011 – October 1, 2012. The contract covers one year be­cause negotiations with Teamsters, IATSE and the producers are scheduled for spring 2012. “This is actually a good thing, because it gives us a chance to come back and renegotiate and continue to make gains for Associates in particular,” said Dayan.

“Next spring the most critical challenges union mem­bers will face are the soaring cost of health care and protection of pensions. This is of utmost concern for us as we negotiate for our members,” said Local 399 Business Agent Ed Duffy.

When unions across the country are struggling to maintain benefits for their members, Local 399 Casting Direc­tors have seen substantial gains. These are all well deserved, because the first six months of 2011 saw the 400 Teamster Casting Directors contributing more than 498,000 hours to the Motion Picture Pension and Health Plans, totaling $2,234,775.

“The gains we have made with the union in our corner have been invaluable,” said Simkin. “Five years ago, we didn’t even have health benefits or a pension.”