‘Return to Work’ Union Memo: Relay Calls, Call Board Availability, and Testing in Television & Features 

Returning to work in the COVID era is presenting unique challenges to all Drivers looking for work and for the Coordinators, Captains, and Dispatchers that are trying to hire them. The need for pre-employment COVID testing is adding an additional layer to the hiring process. These tests are inherently adding more time and effort for all, and raise many questions regarding how this process should be working during this unforeseen time. 

It is important to remember that while we are all trying to smooth the process out, we must maintain our contract, seniority and grouping.

To be clear, you must hire within grouping at all times

Please see the following guidelines, which pertain to the “Black Book” Agreement, as well as the COVID-19 ‘Return to Work’ Agreement with the AMPTP: 



  • “Relay Calls” are not allowed. A Relay call, or Stand-by call, is when an employee is given a call beyond the next regular workday. Getting a call on Friday for Monday is not a relay call. Getting a call on Friday for the following Tuesday is a prohibited relay call. See Paragraph 16 Stand-by Calls (page 115 of the Black Book) for a more detailed explanation.
  • A COVID-19 pre-employment test is a pre-employment test. This means that you are not officially hired unless the Company is paying you the minimum call of (8) hours.
  • If the Company decides to pay the minimum call of (8) hours for a COVID pre-employment test, you are now considered to be an employee. The Company can be obligated to pay COVID-19 sick pay if you test positive.
  • Driver rundowns turned in by Transportation MUST specify whether or not a Driver (or any other Grouped “Black Book” classification) is truly being hired. As you may know, when a production hires a Driver, then, that Driver’s name comes off of the Call Board availability list. This could prevent someone from finding work if you don’t actually end up employing that individual, and the production could potentially have a grievance if that person loses work.
  • The COVID-19 pre-employment test requires each member be paid a stipend of $250.00. If you are working with Studio A and take a pre-employment test with Studio B, you should be paid for all hours worked with Studio A and you should receive a $250.00 stipend from Studio B. If you are working for Studio A on one production and test for another production for Studio A, you are not entitled to receive a $250.00 stipend.​


  • You cannot be listed as available if you cannot work the next regularly scheduled workday. It doesn’t matter if you are testing or have something personal scheduled, if you aren’t available to take a call the following day you cannot register as available.
  • Drivers should check with their current employer before registering. Even before COVID, Drivers registering because they thought they were getting laid off would cause problems. These issues are only intensified now, so please, make sure you don’t have a call for the following day before registering.
  • You can test and receive a stipend ($250) without being hired. If you don’t hear from the Captain or Coordinator after the test, check back in.
  • You can get hired and told to stay home in readiness for work.

Call Board Phone Number: 818-985-7550


  • Do your best to exhaust the entire Group before moving on. This will make it easier on everyone that is trying to hire. If we are continually teetering on the edge of 1’s or 2’s, it will make it more difficult for everyone.
  • You can test multiple Drivers. You may need additional tested Drivers if you have someone that tests positive.
  • Once you’ve tested and hired a Driver, you have the right to retain the driver so long as you don’t violate the seniority provisions in Paragraph 62e(6) of the Black Book.


As a reminder, even if you work just one day in the month you are responsible for your Union dues. If you took a Withdrawal earlier this year and are now returning to work, please get in touch with the Union Hall Front Office so that they may assist you in getting your account current: 818-985-7374. 

The Local 399 Executive Board has also recently made updates to the Local 399 Emergency Dues Policy. 

Click here or on the image above to learn more.

If you need to make a dues payment, head to: