Casting directors, associates set chat with studios, nets

Hollywood and New York casting directors and associates have set Oct. 6 as the start date for their first contract negotiations with studios and networks.

The launch of bargaining with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers will come four months after the casting directors approved the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters as their official bargaining representative by a 243-9 margin in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

Negotiators probably will need at least several days to hammer out a deal. Key issues are likely to include wage scales, health-care coverage, late pay and performing uncompensated work.

The casting directors will be repped through Teamsters Local 817 in New York and Local 399 in Los Angeles.

AMPTP prexy Nick Counter was not available for comment. Teamsters Local 399 business rep Steve Dayan told Daily Variety, “We are optimistic the talks will lead to a fair deal for the casting directors and associates.”

The Teamsters spent three years in an effort to organize the casting directors, one of the few significant groups of Hollywood workers who had not been unionized.

The union and the AMPTP agreed in February to hold an election after several months of public battles. The AMPTP had opposed the organizing drive, threatening to sue late last year on grounds that the casting directors could not be unionized due to their status as independent contractors; the Teamsters’ national leadership warned that it was willing to shut down production nationally.

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

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