Studios, drivers at odds over salary dispute

Major studios and Hollywood Teamster drivers remain at odds in talks over a new contract, with the two sides stuck in a dispute over salary.

A day-long session of bargaining ended late Friday without an agreement to replace the current pact, which expires in a week on July 31.

No new talks have been set. A Teamster member meeting is scheduled for Sunday morning in Burbank, at which the union negotiators could be granted a strike authorization.

Neither the Teamsters nor the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have commented on the talks since they launched last month.

The key issue is whether the new contract should mirror the 3% wage gains in the deal for the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, as the Teamsters contend, or the 2% gains in other deals made during the contract cycle — as the AMPTP argues.

It’s understood that the two sides have tentatively agreed that the new Teamster deal will be for two years so its termination synchs up with the IATSE deal.

Teamster negotiators have argued that their members are entitled to the same 3% wage hike achieved early last year by the 15 Hollywood-based IATSE locals in a three-year deal.

The congloms contend that the IATSE wage gain was negotiated in April 2008 — long before the market meltdown in the fall of 2008 — and that subsequent AMPTP deals with other unions have been for a 2% increase in minimum salary rates.

Three years ago, the Teamster talks went down to the wire with negotiations going several hours past the expiration — nine days after the employees gave negotiators a unanimous strike authorization.

The Teamster deal covers about 3,000 drivers in 13 Western states repped through Teamsters Local 399. The contract also covers 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.

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