Organizing musical composers can be a win-win situation for all 4,000 Local 399 members as well as the 600 members of the Association of Media Composers and Lyricists (AMCL).
Not only would Local 399 gain additional prestige and power during negotiations due to its expanded reach in the industry, but also the AMCL would have the ability to bargain for what they want: medical insurance and pension benefits from the AMPTP.
Almost 300 AMCL members have signed authorization cards indicating that they want to be represented by the Hollywood Teamsters and it is expected that more will be returned in the coming weeks.
In organizing meetings – held at USC on March 5 and at the Writers Guild on April 19 – their members expressed hope that the Teamsters will negotiate a contract with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Composers and songwriters are the only creatives left in the business who have no union protection, having disbanded their previous union in 1982.
At the April 19 meeting, over 250 AMCL members were greeted at the Writers Guild Theater by the Teamsters Joint Council 42 big rig. It was a visual reminder of the power wielded by the Teamsters, as well as the solidarity among all the JC 42 locals in support of the AMCL.
Secretary Treasurer Leo T. Reed welcomed the potential members and gave his support to the group. He stressed that Teamster representation would be good for the AMCL as well as current Local 399 members.
“As we all know, we work in a make-believe industry,” Reed said. “The Teamsters are definitely not make-believe. All the Teamsters throughout the US stand shoulder to shoulder and come to each others’ aid in times of need.” Local 399 has continued to improve its cachet and bargaining power in Hollywood by adding casting directors and location managers to its membership of drivers, wranglers, animal trainers, auto service personnel, couriers, dispatchers, mechanics and prop house personnel. Each time it brings in a new group, this local increases its bargaining power for all.
Business Agent and Organizer Steve Dayan, who has been an integral part of the campaign, then read a statement from General President James P. Hoffa in support of the AMCL. “On behalf of our 1.4 million members, the Teamsters Union stands shoulder to shoulder with you,” Hoffa’s letter began. “In forming a partnership with Local 399, you are taking a strong first step. The Teamsters are fully committed to fight with you for justice, dignity and respect.”