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Labor logjam looms in June

It’s getting crowded in Hollywood’s labor negotiations line.

The WGA and AMPTP opted May 12 to delay the resumption of talks for three weeks, hoping to hash out details of their respective deal proposals in committees before meeting again. For now, both sides are playing nice — studios and networks haven’t locked out writers and the WGA hasn’t scheduled a strike authorization vote. And the writers continue to work, even though their contract expired May 2.

But pressure will build in June as nets begin prepping fall shows for production in July and the AMPTP gears up for tough negotiations with the 40,000 studio drivers repped by Local 399 of the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters, whose contract expires July 31.

Unlike the WGA’s kid-glove approach, Local 399 has already threatened that it will not just strike if it doesn’t get a good deal — it will shut down production nationwide. Local 399 negotiates jointly with four other Basic Crafts unions representing studio plumbers, pipe fitters, plasterers, cement masons and electrical workers.

Further complications could come from casting directors, who have organized under the Teamsters to formally ask the AMPTP for recognition, and threaten to strike if they’re turned down.

Next up will be the AFTRA’s network code pact, which expires Nov. 15, followed by the American Federation of Musicians in early 2005.

And, lest anyone forget, there’s the potential “perfect storm” of contract talks, as deals for SAG, AFTRA and the DGA expire June 30, 2005.

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