U Studios drivers reject new contract

About 140 tour drivers and garage mechanics at Universal Studios Hollywood voted Thursday to reject a new contract, setting the stage for a possible picket or a walkout as the theme park heads into the summer season.

The vote comes as the theme park prepares for the busy Memorial Day weekend holiday.

But it was unclear if the workers, who are repped by Teamsters Local 399, would strike or go back to the bargaining table, as the local had not given notice to U. A mediator supervised the balloting, and could step in to try to avert a job action.

And it also was unclear whether other union locals, such as technicians and electricians, would refuse to cross a picket line.

Union leaders did not return calls seeking comment, and the results of the vote were not released. The studio has contingency plans in the event of a strike.

The workers’ contract expired May 10, and the pact had been extended until members voted on a new proposal.

The new pact, which would be retroactive to that date, includes 3% wage increases in each of the first three years and a 2% in the final year. In addition, a 1% increase in employees’ individual account plans would be made in each of those years.

“Acting in good faith, Universal Studios Hollywood renegotiated its agreement with Local 399 to the satisfaction of the union’s bargaining committee,” a U spokesman said. “No further negotiations are planned.”

A federal mediator oversaw the counting of ballots Thursday.

Some workers wanted wage increases tied to equal actual figures, bringing the pay scales of the drivers more in parity. They also had disagreements concerning the language in the contract.

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