Motion picture locals from throughout the United States gathered in Southern California recently to tackle the challenge of creating Teamster jobs in our ever-changing industry.

Organizing of reality shows, commercials and low-budget productions, as well as the opportunities in new media were among the important subjects under discussion. Representatives from New York across the country and Canada joined the Hollywood-based motion picture division staff.

“All producers – big and small – must be made to understand that union agreements are part of their budget,” reported Secretary-Treasurer Leo T. Reed, who chaired the meeting in his role as Director of the Motion Picture Division and Theatrical Trade Division. In this role he is able to set policy for the entire nation.

“Reality TV and new media are trends that are not going to go away,” he advised the 20 motion picture representatives gathered to discuss new opportunities.

Using Southern California as an example, he reported that in the past year commercials generated more than 670,000 hours of work. A report from the actuary to the Motion Picture Pension and Health Plans showed that 78.2 million hours have been worked by the Teamsters and IATSE, a record year for the industry.

Secretary-Treasurer Reed has been concerned about filling the jobs gap created by a decade-long loss of over 70 percent of our feature films to ‘runaway productions.’ They have been filming in heavily subsidized states of the U.S. or in less expensive countries like Hungary, Czechoslovakia , New Zealand and Australia. A vigorous organizing effort by Local 399 has partially filled the gap.

The program received enthusiastic support. Tommy O’Donnell, President of New York Local 817 stated, “I applaud you on the organizing of the reality TV shows, but I really believe that this is something that we don’t need to do individually but collectively,” O’Donnell has the only other all-movie local in the U.S. He suggested a coordinated effort with all the Teamsters throughout the country along with even the IA.

“All of you in leadership roles have an obligation to make sure every production is organized,” commented Secretary-Treasurer Reed. “The playing field must be level!”

The Motion Picture Division meets on a regular basis to discuss challenges and opportunities in the industry. Secretary-Treasurer Reed has served as chairman for almost two decades and has been effective in gathering national support for Teamster contracts.

The attendees at this year’s conference were Jerry Carter and Tony Lefebvre (Local 728, Atlanta); Tommy O’Donnell and Frank Connolly, Jr. (Local 817, New York); L.D. Fletcher (Local 509, Columbia, S.C.); Brent Taylor (Local 745, Dallas); Frank Perkins (Local 657, San Antonio); Moises Ortega (Local 492, Albuquerque); John Coli Jr. and Jon Magna (Local 727, Chicago); Mark Harrington (Local 25, Washington, D.C.); Ken Marsden (Local 155, Vancouver); Wayne Garner and Al Porter (Local 362, Calgary); Brian Mainville (JC 25, Illinois); Mike Scott (Local 769, Miami) and Ron Schwab (IBT). The Local 399 representatives included Secretary-Treasurer Reed, Attorney Joe Kaplon, Business Agents Steve Dayan, Ed Duffy, and Leo Reed, Jr., Auditor Jason Han, and Office Manager Greg Karson.