Joint committee to be established to oversee efforts

The two below-the-line unions repping most film and TV industry crews — the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — have entered into an agreement to work together toward common goals.

The pact, announced Thursday, sets out how the unions will address organizing efforts, deal with jurisdictional issues and establishes new lines of communication aimed at strengthening the relationship.

The two unions said a joint committee will be established to oversee the efforts.

Move comes two weeks after Teamster Local 399 drivers reached a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and indicated that it might jointly negotiate with IATSE on their deals — which were synched up so that both expire in the summer of 2012.

IATSE president Matthew Loeb said in a statement, “The Teamsters are our natural allies. They work side by side with our members for the same employers, and they face the same challenges we do with respect to our standard of living, and health and retirement benefits.”

Both unions participate in the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans. The announcement said that recent meetings between the leadership of the two labor organizations have led to closer ties.

“We look forward to working more closely with IATSE to represent the interests of our members in the motion picture and television industry,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.

Leo Reed, director Local 399 in Hollywood, said, “Our members will only benefit from this new partnership.” Local 399 covers about 3,200 drivers in 13 Western states. The Teamster’s two-year contract expires on July 31, 2012 — matching the termination date of the Local 399 deal with that of the West Coast deal for 15 locals of the IATSE, which has over 100,000 members.

Teamster attorney Joseph Kaplon said on July 25 that the alignment of termination dates represents a key gain for the Teamsters and comes amid improved relations between IATSE and the Teamsters, which could lead to the unions jointly negotiating in the next round. Kaplon credited Loeb, who replaced the retiring Thomas Short in 2008, with fostering closer ties between the two unions.

The Teamsters’ contract went out of synch with the IATSE deal in 1988, when the drivers staged their last strike and stayed out for 24 days.

In a sign that IATSE and the Teamsters were moving toward a formal alliance, IATSE announced on July 19 that it had coordinated with Local 399 to unionize two new productions — “Easy Access,” a webisode being shot for Swedish home goods giant IKEA, and the scripted “Eagleheart” for Adult Swim/Cartoon Network.

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