Issue on paying assistants to be raised at negotiations

Casting directors have pulled the plug on a bitter stand-off with television studios over the issue of who pays for assistants to the casting directors during pilot season.

The casting directors, who are repped through the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters, issued a directive Wednesday to members through a Teamsters steering committee that met with Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The panel said the issue would be brought up at the bargaining table later this year and that casting directors — who had been refusing to take jobs over the past two weeks if assistants were not paid for — should proceed with making deals for pilot season.

The AMPTP had no comment. The Teamsters steering committee said in an email that it had met Wednesday with the companies.

“As a result, our goal of achieving adequate staffing on pilots will be addressed in this year’s Union Contract negotiations,” the message said. “For this current pilot season, we urge Casting Directors to resume your individual negotiations with the Studios.”

The steering committee also announced it would hold a meeting Thursday night at the headquarters of the Screen Actors Guild.

“Both sides have agreed not to speak to the press regarding this issue,” the missive concluded. “We ask you to do the same.”

The casting directors had told the studios that it should become standard practice for the companies should foot the bill for assistants during pilot season. The studios have refused to revise what has been a longstanding practice.

No negotiations have been set yet for a successor deal to the current contract, which expires in October and 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 for casting directors following an organizing campaign that lasted three years.

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