By Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Negotiator Leo T. Reed
I never spoke to the press because I always believe that they are one-sided. However, the complete facts of what transpired were never made public. The following is what actually transpired during negotiations:
Reed Negotiating Team’s Contract
Ratified With 97.3% Vote
Forty days after negotiations began, the Leo Reed negotiating team emerged with an agreement that was overwhelming ratified by the members with 97.3 percent approval.
Over 1,200 members packed the Pickwick Gardens meeting hall in Burbank to learn the outcome of Secretary-Treasurer Leo Reed’s long and grueling negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The members present took the Local’s recommendation and voted to accept the new contract, avoiding a strike that could have crippled the industry and left drivers out of work indefinitely.
A Determined Spokesman
Reed was the spokesman and chief negotiator during marathon talks, which began on June 14 and continued for two consecutive weeks. Representatives of the six major studios, their attorneys and staffs joined AMPTP negotiators in eyeball-to-eyeball talks with Reed and his negotiating team. Reed made his intentions clear at the opening session, noting that he would settle for nothing less than a quality contract. Raises and maintenance of medical benefits were a must, he told them, and takeaways would not be tolerated.
On a Saturday afternoon, the day before the July 25 General Membership meeting where members were to vote to ratify or strike, an agreement was reached. In addition to a two percent raise each year the Reed team won the following:
TWO-YEAR TERM: A two-year term allows us to negotiate along with the IATSE, which will give us a significant voice in your Health and Welfare and Pension Plan for years to come. We will no longer be the tail; we will be a major part of the dog that wags the tail. No more negotiating the year after the IA. We have not been together since 1988 and this new strength, while also including the Location Managers whose contract expires at the same time, will give us a significant voice at the bargaining table.
- Pension and Health: We achieved two $.50 per hour increases for the next two years, which guarantees Pension and Health Benefits. In addition our Retirees will receive their 13th and 14th checks for the term of the agreement.
- Except for Group 1’s who have a Class B license, Hyphenate Drivers and Cook Drivers, all rostered employees shall have a Class A license.
- 5-Ton Trucks with airbrakes used on off-production are added to the Traveler Program.
- The cost of driver’s license renewals and medical certificates (no more than 1 per year) will be reimbursed by CSATF.
- The $40 Meal Allowance has been expanded to include “off-production” Drivers tied to production (e.g., Set Dressing Truck Drivers) and Cook/Drivers, provided that the Drivers work more than 12 hours per day, not counting meal periods.
- Producers shall employ a 399 Captain on all Productions in the 13 Western States whether or not equipment is taken from Hollywood.
- Our low budget threshold remains at $8 million dollars unlike the other Locals, whose low budget agreements are at $12 million.
Secretary-Treasurer Leo Reed, the spokesman and chief negotiator, recommended the contract with the following remarks:
“I would like to thank my Brothers from the International again. They stand here with me today, totally committed. They are Local 399’s clout and leverage in negotiations. We are committed! We stand together, shoulder to shoulder, coming to each other’s aid in time of need, from “Sea to Shining Sea.” My Brothers, thank you.
As you know, the last two years were tough – the Writer’s Strike and SAG’s de facto strike. Yes, it was very slow for two years. It was tough.
Now we must decide whether we will ratify the Producers’ final offer. Their final offer is not bad. No concessions, no rollbacks, and we are moving forward.
As a matter of fact, the Producers’ Memorandum of Agreement is a great offer. Not perfect (I wanted 3%) but it is still great.
Up to Friday night at 10:30pm we told them that we would not recommend their offer, and that we were going to strike them.
It was only after they made a couple of adjustments yesterday afternoon that we decided not to let our egos get in our way, and recommend the contract. Yes, I am going to recommend the contract because it is the best that we can get without a strike, and I believe that it is the best we can get even with a strike.
It is easy to negotiate a strike. It is tough to negotiate a contract. We negotiated this contract successfully.”