Studios, Teamsters to talk

Meetings will include four other Crafts unions

Studios and networks will launch contract talks today with the Teamster drivers and four Basic Crafts unions in what may prove a portent for bargaining with the Writers Guild of America this summer.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, which serves as the negotiating arm for the companies, will be meeting with reps of Teamsters Local 399 and the four other Basic Crafts unions — Local 40 of the Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Local 724 of the Studio Utility Employees; Local 755 of Plasterers and Cement Masons; and Local 78 of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Industry. The current Basic Crafts three-year deal expires July 31.

Teamster drivers are the largest component of the locals repped at the negotiations, with about 4,000 members, while the Studio Utility Employees number more than 1,000. Reps for both sides have allocated the entire week for talks, and both sides have indicated they’ll observe a news blackout.

The talks will be closely tracked by Hollywood’s labor sector. Should negotiations take a contentious turn, it could indicate a rough road for the AMPTP and the WGA when their negotiations begin in mid-summer.

The Basic Crafts negotiations are likely to follow along the lines of the current West Coast IATSE agreement, which went into effect last August and featured minimum wage hikes of 75¢ per hour in the first year and 3% in the second and third years along with hikes of 0.5% in the second year and 0.5% in the third year in the Individual Account Plan  and a 25¢-per-hour increase in contributions to the pension plan.

The current Basic Crafts deal included a 7% hike in telepic rates and an agreement to keep all episodic TV rates at the same level for the first two years. It also contained a 75¢-per-hour increase in the first year, followed by a 2.5% rise in the second and 3% in the third; and pension plan hikes of 25¢ per hour in the first year, 15¢ in the second and 10¢ in the third.

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