Top Teamsters back drivers

Local reps to attend AMPTP negotiations next month

HOLLYWOOD — The top leadership of the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters has pledged full support to its Local 399 studio drivers in upcoming negotiations with studios and networks.

The Teamsters will send reps from their locals around the country to the negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, scheduled to start next month.

Tuesday’s announcement, made by Local 399 secretary-treasurer Leo T. Reed after a Teamsters unity conference in Las Vegas, underscores the potential for a rockier-than-usual fight at the bargaining table. Reed warned last month that the local is prepared to strike and picket every production location if negotiations don’t lead to a settlement by the July 31 expiration.

Local 399, which reps about 4,000 drivers, location managers and scouts, negotiates jointly with four other basic crafts unions, which rep studio plumbers, pipe fitters, plasterers, cement masons and electrical workers.

Negotiations have been set to start next month, although there could be a scheduling conflict with Writers Guild of America talks, which have been recessed for three weeks and are to resume June 1.

The Teamsters negotiations’ are likely to be complicated by a fight between it and the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which covers most below-the-line showbiz work. Dispute stems from IATSE’s unusual tactic in its agreement last year for a new three-year deal with the AMPTP, which includes wage freezes and concessions on low-budget TV series — on the condition that the Teamsters would agree to the same terms.

IATSE leaders have contended that the move reflects its decade-old strategy to organize low-budget projects; the Teamsters are upset that the IATSE move amounts to another union endorsing a concession in Teamster negotiations.

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