Assistants' payments a key issue for Aug. 29 negotiations

Casting directors have set negotiations with the congloms for late August, with the question of payment for assistants during pilot season likely to be a major issue.

The casting directors, who are repped through the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters, will begin talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers on Aug. 29. The current three-year contract expires in October.

Neither side had any comment Tuesday, a day after reps of the casting directors and the AMPTP met at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks as a follow-up to the January dispute over assistants. The casting directors had told the studios that it should become standard practice for the companies to foot the bill for assistants during pilot season. The studios refused to revise what has been a longstanding practice.

The casting directors had been refusing to take jobs over a two-week period at the start of pilot season until Teamster reps met with the companies.

“As a result, our goal of achieving adequate staffing on pilots will be addressed in this year’s Union Contract negotiations,” a Jan. 7 message from the Teamsters steering committee had said. “For this current pilot season, we urge casting directors to resume your individual negotiations with the studios.”

The current contract covers about 500 casting directors and associates in Hollywood and New York — but doesn’t cover assistants. The Teamsters were able to obtain the first union contract in 2005 for casting directors following an organizing campaign that lasted three years.

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