N.Y. studios, Teamsters shake hands

Though the weather is turning colder here, a warming trend blew in from the West Coast last week: The town will avoid another prolonged labor crisis with the studios.

According to sources, West Coast-based talks between studio negotiators and Teamsters Local 817 has resulted in a tentative agreement.

Nothing has been signed yet, but it’s believed the tough talking is over in coming up with a pact to replace the three-year deal that expired Oct. 31.

The main priority for studios was to bring down overtime costs. According to sources, the union has agreed to cut back overtime from double time to time-and-a-half on the union’s flat rate.

The union also agreed to show flexibility on manning and give producers a say in naming captains of driving crews.

The union will get a pay freeze the first year of the contract, with 3% raises the next two years.

A quick settlement would be a major morale booster to the town, which is also about to get a new city film commissioner as well.

What’s unclear from the pending settlement is whether the givebacks will be enough to get the studios to bring work back.

The talks began with the usual posturing, with the studios presenting a long wish list of concessions.

The union asked for minimum work guarantees in exchange for givebacks, arguing that studio work accounted for only about 4% of the Teamsters’ annual take.

Both sides withhold comment

Neither side would comment on the talks, but the settlement is timed with the release of “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” and “Malcolm X,” two big-budget studio films shot largely in New York.

Though numerous planned studio starts like Warner Bros.’ “Devil’s Advocate” and Fox’s “Man of Honor” were derailed for creative reasons, studio projects might finally return.

The flow of studio work has slowed to a trickle since the majors waged a seven-month studio boycott of the town over a dispute with Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes locals.

Though some films have popped in, the town has been making due with independents, whose budgets are lower, its staffing requirement less.

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