If you want to know what Hollywood was like during the last 40 years, Local 399 Coordinator Tom Thomas is a great person to ask. The industry veteran was first grouped in 1966, and for the last four and a half decades has collected enough stories to fill a honeywagon.
“My first coordinating job was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” recalled Thomas of the iconic 1975 film. “I could tell you some stories about the way it used to be, before most of these new guys were even born,” he added with a laugh.
According to Thomas, the biggest change has been the transition of the industry into a more corporate atmosphere. Yet while the ‘old school’ way of doing things has faded, he has continued to pass on lessons he learned to the younger Teamsters he has worked with over the years.
“When I was younger we were always told that we had to learn as much as we could,” remembered Thomas. “The new guys coming up now need to work hard to help preserve our union jobs. How far they go in this business is up to them.”
For the last 13 years, Thomas has been passing this message along to his fellow members on the set of CSI Las Vegas, on which he has been Coordinator since the third episode. “I have the best job in town; we all really get along,” he commented about the 14 drivers on set. “This is the best group I’ve had. They help the crew, the captains, anyone who needs it,” he explained. “I’ve known one of my Captains, Kim Latina, since she was eight years old. We really are like a family.”
Local 399 Secretary-Treasurer Leo Reed praised Thomas for his service in the industry and dedication to keeping union jobs secure. “I wish Tom well in his life after Hollywood. He has put in more years of hard work than most people in our industry,” praised Reed. “He understands that strong representation requires strong members. The best way to protect our jobs on a daily basis is to bust our butts on set.”
“I am a huge fan of Leo’s,” added Thomas, “He has done more to keep us in the game than anyone I can think of. He has fought hard to make sure our jobs are protected.”
Even though his career as a Teamster Transportation Coordinator is coming to an end, Thomas is looking forward to life after Hollywood. “I feel great and I’ve saved enough energy to really enjoy my retirement,” he added with a chuckle. “It’s been a great ride, but it’s time to go.”