Teamster Magazine

November/December 2010

Two-Year Pact Receives 97 Percent Approval

After contentious negotiations that went down to the wire, Local 399 in Hollywood, Calif. reached an agreement for a new two-year contract for the 3,200 motion picture and television production drivers, averting a work stoppage that could have crippled the industry. Despite a disagreement on the annual wage increase, the union and the Alliance for Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) were able to hash out a contract that satisfied both sides and included important gains for the membership while recognizing the impact the economy has had on the industry. “We received significant enhancements in certain areas that our members wanted,” said Leo Reed, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 399. “We were a week out from the contract’s expiration date and both sides knew what a work stoppage would do to an industry that was already reeling from this economy.”

Making Gains

While the union accepted a 2-percent wage increase per year rather than the 3-percent they initially were looking for, gains in meal pay for off-production drivers, payment for drivers licenses and medical card renewal, and a 1.6 percent hike in benefits, helped round out a strong contract. “I felt it was a very good contract, we got what we wanted,” said Nick Davis, a 25-year driver and member of Local 399. “Everyone was happy that we were able to avert a strike. Since he started in 1988, Leo has always negotiated good contracts for us and we organized like never before. He cares about the members—he’s like a hero to us.” Local 399 was also able to maintain the $8 million cap for low-budget productions. This allows the Teamster drivers to receive their standard rates when film and television productions budgets hit $8 million. In contrast, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) contract has a much higher cap of $12 million. “Our members understand the situation,” Reed said. “We were able to negotiate the best deal possible for them and the 97 percent approval by our drivers speaks directly to that.”

Building Alliances for the Future

Another key result of the negotiations was the alignment of the contact’s expiration date with the IATSE’s pact for the 15 locals that represent the below-the-line crew members on productions. This means on July 31, 2012, the AMPTP will face the combined bargaining power of both IATSE and the Teamsters Union. Reed said that this was a direct result of the improved relationship between the two unions since Matthew Loeb took over as national president of IATSE. “We have really come together in union solidarity since President Loeb took over,” Reed said. “He understands that we are stronger when we stand together and it shouldn’t matter what union we are members of—we are all brothers and sisters fighting the same battle.”

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