Through crying tiers, union, U studios pact

Tour drivers and garage mechanics at Universal Studios Hollywood ratified a new contract on Tuesday, approving a new pact that attempts to bring the pay of employees more in parity with each other.

The new contract was ratified, 80-17, by members of Teamsters Local 399. They represent about 140 employees at the theme park.

The pact expired on May 10, and Teamsters had been working on an extended agreement since then. The new contract is retroactive to that date and runs through May 10, 2001.

Last month, members rejected a previous contract proposal in apparent frustration that the pact continued to have a two-tired wage system. Their gripe: different drivers doing the same work are paid at varying wage scales, based on the time they were hired.

Under the newly passed contract, money has been shifted so wage increases are at greater rates among lower tiers than higher tiers, said Joe Kaplon, attorney for Teamsters Local 399. For example, to the lowest tier, U will make pay increases totaling 16% over four years; and 11% over that period to the highest tier.

U also will increase contributions to employees’ individual account plans by 4% over the term of the contract.

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