A week of contract talks launches today

Casting directors and the congloms will launch a week of contract talks Monday, a month before the expiration of the current three-year deal.

Neither side had any comment. The casting directors, repped through the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters, will hold the talks at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers in Sherman Oaks.

Reps of the casting directors and the AMPTP met in June as a follow-up to a January dispute over casting assistants, but it’s unclear if that issue will be part of the casting directors’ proposal. Casting directors had refused to take jobs during a two-week period, telling the studios that it should become standard practice for the companies to foot the bill for assistants during pilot season, while the studios refused to revise what has been a long-standing practice.

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

The casting director negotiations are the first major contract talks involving the AMPTP since it reached a three-year deal in March with the Writers Guild of America that saw a 2% increase in minimums along with a hike in pension contributions. Concessions included freezing the network primetime residual rates and elimination of the first-class travel provision when writers are required to fly to sets.

Basic terms of the WGA deal followed the general pattern set in pacts ratified earlier this year by the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and the Directors Guild.

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