Thank you to the more than 120 Casting professionals who joined us last week for our first digital Casting Meeting. We received a lot of great feedback from those in attendance about the possibility of hosting more meetings in a digital format, especially as we begin to prepare for your negotiations next year and see our Industry re-open. For those of you who were unable to join us, please take some time reviewing the topics discussed from the meeting shared in this email. If you have any questions about what is provided here, please do not hesitate to reach out to Business Agent Ed Duffy for further clarification.
We want to thank the Members of our Casting Steering Committee, not only for their participation in last Wednesday’s meeting, but for their continued support and guidance during this time. We have been meeting with all of our Steering Committees regularly and their feedback has been essential to make certain that all concerns, ideas and issues are addressed. Please be in touch with your Shop Stewards and Steering Committee Members with any of your questions or concerns. They are here to support you and keep our group strong and united.
Thanks again to our Local 399 Casting Director Steering Committee Members: Gary Zuckerbrod, Nancy Klopper, Muffett Brinkman, Anya Colloff, Charley Medigovich, Allen Hooper, Venus Kanani, Ben Harris, Margery Simkin, Cathy Sandrich, Tracy Lilienfield, Stacia Kimler, Sherry Thomas and Tammy Billik
LOCAL 399 GENERAL UPDATE
Secretary-Treasurer Steve Dayan provided a report to our Casting group that mirrored the general update delivered at our General Membership Meeting on July 26th. If you were not in attendance for that meeting, we encourage you to review the meeting recap shared here: www.ht399.org/5156-2/
Steve reported that things are moving along well and that we hope to see more productions continue to start back up soon, getting our Members back to work. At this time the Unions and Guilds are still in discussions with the Studios regarding standardized return to work protocols and we hope to have an update to share with the entire Membership soon. This process has been unlike anything ever done before in our Industry’s history as all the Guilds and Unions are in discussions together with the Studios to make sure we return our Members safely back to work and all of our concerns are heard and properly addressed. It has been remarkable to be in such solidarity with our Sisters Guilds and Unions in the Industry during this challenging time.
We recently hosted an MPI Webinar on “Understanding Your Health Benefits” to help Members better understand the resources available to them through MPI and the actions being taken by the Board of Directors, comprised of Representatives from Labor and Management during this COVID-19 situation. Steve reiterated that President Kenny Farnell, Business Agent Joshua Staheli and himself all sit on the MPI Board as the Teamster representatives and shared that they are making decisions on a month-by-month basis to help all participants navigate issues and concerns with their benefits.
The first step that was taken when the COVID-19 situation hit was to top off participant’s hours who were close to lapsing in coverage. MPI recently made the determination that it was more cost effective to put participants on Cobra coverage and pay the Cobra premiums than to top off individual hours.
If you have questions about your hours, the best first step is to log into your account at: www.mpiphp.org. If you do not have an account, please create one, as there are many resources available to Members online.
Steve assured the Members that when it comes to health insurance, especially during this difficult time, the Board is doing all they can to protect Members when it comes to the benefits for Members and their families. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to MPI directly or the Union Hall and ask to speak to Josh, Kenny or Steve.
MPI Contact Information:
Ed Duffy provided an update on the situation surrounding the additional Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that recently lapsed. Back in June, the Assembly passed the HEROES Act that would have extended the PUA, as well as address other concerns for small businesses and worker safety, however it never moved past Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. Another bill called the HEALS Act was proposed but this would have dropped the additional support from $600 to $200 weekly, and also didn’t address any of the other outstanding issues.
The HEALS Act was not passed and the Senate has gone on a 3-week recess, leaving workers in limbo as to what will happen to the additional unemployment benefits. The President did recently put out a proclamation to try to have the Federal Government pay for $300 of additional assistance and the State provide an additional $100 to make it $400 but there were many problems with this attempt. We will continue to share more on the situation as it develops.
EDD: For those still having issues collecting your unemployment, the best course of action is to reach out to your Assemblyperson to have them assist on your behalf. Please let Ed know if you need any help getting connected with your Assemblyperson.
IF YOU’RE GOING BACK TO WORK:
CALL IN YOUR JOB:
We cannot stress enough, if you are going back to work, please call or email in your job to the Call Board and let them know what you are working on. We know that our Casting group has not always utilized the Call Board, however this is very important as we try to keep track of where our Members are working as well as how safety is being enforced on each production. This is also a great way for us to make sure that if you are working on a Netflix production you are aware of the better conditions included in your agreement.
We are working on developing improved software solutions for the office and will be rolling out a new Call Board system in the coming months. This new system should help our Casting Community avail themselves of the additional resources available to them. We will be working with our Steering Committee to continue to improve upon addressing the unique needs of this group.
Some productions are handling new protocols very well, whereas others are not. Please get in touch with Ed regarding any and all concerns surrounding returning to work: firstname.lastname@example.org.
REOPENING PROTOCOL FOR MUSIC, TELEVISION AND FILM PRODUCTION: APPENDIX J
In time of COVID-19, we know many of you may end up accomplishing your work through virtual casting, will be working from home and/or in offices with limited staff. Either way, it would be good to familiarize yourself with Appendix J of the County Guidelines so that you are aware of what the Studios are being expected to follow. Appendix J highlights protocols and guidelines and also identifies the need for a COVID Supervisor for each production who will be the go to person for COVID-19 safety questions and concerns.
If you are working from home, it is still recommended for you to identify who your COVID-19 Supervisor is on your production should you run into any issues. If you have any questions, you can also always reach out to the Union Hall as well as speak to Ed.
Click here to review the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health Reopening Protocols for Music, Television and Film Production
VIRTUAL CASTING / WORKING FROM HOME:
During this meeting, virtual Casting and the probability of working from home was brought up to discuss how you should handle the use of your personal equipment in order to complete your job.
If you are required to use your own equipment to perform the duties of your job, you should be reimbursed. It’s State Law.
Under California Labor Code section 2802, it requires employers to reimburse employees for all “necessary” expenses they incur while performing their jobs. Though this is state law, there is no standardized amount for each item used, so it does become a negotiation on your part and it is in your best interest to bring this to the attention of your production or supervisor as soon as possible when asked to complete your work utilizing your own devices.
If you run into any issues, please reach out to the Union, or one of your Local 399 Shop Stewards, to help make sure this is included in your Casting deal, as well as being implemented for Casting Associates.
The best way to stay connected to the Union, and directly connect to your Casting Stewards, is to download the Local 399 App for your Android or iPhone – you can do so here: Click here to learn more and download the Local 399 App
If you are experiencing any issues with receiving your paycheck in a timely manner, please reach out to the Union so that we can determine the best course of action. It is possible that you could be entitled to late wage claims for delayed payment on any production.
Until now, our Casting Directors and Casting Associates have not had to interact with the Contract Services Training Division. Many other classifications are required by their contract to take regular classes in order to qualify for work. CSATF will soon be rolling out two required classes for our Casting professionals that all covered Industry professionals will be required to complete in order to work:
1. Harassment Prevention – This class was bargained into our Casting Agreement 2 years ago. CSATF is now ready to roll this class out to this group. Once all have the ability to complete this 1-2 hour course online, this should replace the necessity of required in-person training that happens with each new production.
2. COVID-19 Safety – At this time CSATF is working to complete this 30 minute online training course to review simple practices to keep our Members safe while working on productions.
Both of these classes will be available digitally and once they are available, Studios will check the status of your classes to make certain the required raining is completed prior to being hiried.
2018-2021 CASTING AGREEMENT:
For the standard Casting Agreement, Casting Associate raises will take effect on October 4th. The new rate will be $19.00 an hour, bringing your weekly amount to $1,330.
Casting Director Extended Weeks on Production: There was a question brought up surrounding production weeks being extended from what was originally agreed upon in a CD’s personal agreement, especially in light of COVID-19. As you may recall, we added language in our last Casting Agreement to address this issue. If you are running into issues with the Studios trying to extend the weeks you agreed upon without adding additional pay, make the Union or your Shop Steward is your first call. This has been an issue for others and in most cases, we have been able to get our Casting Directors what they deserved.
The next Casting Agreement will be up for negotiation next year. We will be holding more meetings with our Steering Committee in the coming months, to begin these internal discussions. If you have any suggestions, feedback or ideas, please continue to share that information with our Steering Committee in preparation.
NETFLIX CASTING AGREEMENT:
As of this April, Teamsters Local 399 and Local 817 finalized a Term Casting Agreement for our Casting Directors and Casting Associates with Netflix. This agreement is the first Term Signatory Agreement we have with Netflix, which is also known as ‘Storybuilders’. In this agreement, we were able to secure better working conditions and higher wages.
Important things to note regarding the Netflix Casting Agreement:
Senior Casting Associates:
In our Netflix Agreement, we created a Senior Casting Associate position that gives Casting Associates that are vested in MPI a higher minimum rate. As of July 30th, 2020, the Senior Casting Associate Rate is now $22.07 an hour, which equals $1,544.90 a week. A vested year in MPI is any year you work at least 400 hours.
The Netflix Casting agreement was signed in April of 2020. We also bargained retro pay for those who worked on a Netflix Production back to November 15th, 2019 at the $21.43 rate. Ed was able to work with MPI to determine who was eligible for retro-pay for that timeframe and most should have already received your retro payment.
If you are a Senior Casting Associate that worked on a Netflix, ‘Storybuilders’, production between November 15th, 2019 to date and you did not receive retro-pay, or the higher wage rate while on a Netflix-Storybuilders Production, please reach out to Ed Duffy. Remember, this is only for Productions being produced by Netflix, not productions sold to Netflix.
In order to check your status with MPI to see if you are vested, make sure you have an account with MPI. it will display your Plan information once you log into your account here: www.mpiphp.org.
All Casting Associates:
Under the Netflix Agreement, all Casting Associates should be getting overtime over 60 hours worked.
If working for a Netflix-Storybuilder Production, and you’re working exclusively on that project and you work a 6th or 7th day, under this agreement you will get overtime as long as it was approved by production in advance of performing the work.
If you were one of the Members who took a withdrawal card in March, please remember you must return your account to ACTIVE status prior to the start of work. For those that have not started working, you can continue to remain on Withdrawal.
If you have any questions about your account, please reach out to the Union Hall Front Office: 818-985-7374. Our Office hours are Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and we will be reopening the Office to Members on Monday, August 31st.