Teamsters to AMPTP: Casting strike looms

Local 399 represents drivers, location managers, scouts

HOLLYWOOD — Teamsters leaders have repeated their warning to studios and nets that about 500 casting directors and associates will go on strike soon should the companies refuse to allow the employees to unionize.

Leo T. Reed, secretary-treasurer of the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 399, indicated Wednesday that a work stoppage will follow if the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers doesn’t grant recognition to the Teamsters as a bargaining unit for the casting directors and associates.

“I have always believed that a peaceful solution to a problem is much better than going to war,” Reed said in a letter to AMPTP president Nick Counter. “Please contact me at your earliest convenience if you wish to continue the dialogue. Otherwise, you leave us no alternative but to do what we have to do to attain a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement for these deserving individuals.”

Legal warning

Counter recently warned the Teamsters of upcoming legal challenges if they persist in planning for a strike, asserting that most casting directors are independent contractors rather than employees. “As such, any attempt by them to combine their forces in an effort to affect the prices paid for their services is an unlawful combination between non-labor groups which violates both the federal antitrust laws and a wide variety of state laws, including laws prohibiting unfair competition,” he said in a letter to Reed last week.

Counter also insisted any refusal by casting directors under contract to perform services would result in breach of contract and subject the Teamsters to liability for inducing breach and interference with contractual relations.

Reed contended in his letter that the casting directors and associates are employees, also noting that they are among the few non-unionized groups in Hollywood.

‘Something that must be remedied’

“These employees perform duties for your represented members under the full direction of your executives and other supervisors,” Reed said. “Unfortunately, they are one of the only groups of employees who do not enjoy the fruits of their labor because they are unrepresented. It is unbelievable that these individuals are unable to avail themselves of reasonable wages, benefits, hours and working conditions which heretofore have been the hallmark of this industry. Your refusal to recognize their needs is something that must be remedied.”

Reps for the AMPTP were not available for comment Wednesday.

The Teamsters began organizing the casting directors and associates two years ago. Teamsters president James Hoffa Jr. and SAG president Melissa Gilbert have agreed to hold a joint news conference next month to showcase support from other Hollywood unions, including SAG, WGA, DGA and AFTRA.

Local 399 also represents 4,100 studio drivers, location managers and location scouts.

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