Inside Move: TV crix may get locked out

L.A. hotel wokers expected to reject new contract

TV critics and network publicity execs are scrambling to draw up contingency plans in case of an employee strike or lockout at the Westin Century Plaza Hotel — site of this month’s Television Critics Assn. press tour.

Hotel and restaurant employees at nine L.A. hotels, including the Century Plaza, vote today on whether to accept a new contract. Pact is expected to be rejected.

Beyond that, with negotiations at an impasse it’s unclear whether members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Intl. Union will launch a work stoppage, or will be locked out.

Several TV critics have already told TCA leaders that they refuse to cross picket lines; network actors, who are all SAG members, would also decline to attend press tour sessions should a strike erupt.

In an email to members, TCA leaders warned critics to monitor their email, in case there’s a scramble to find new accommodations for the event. Press tour is scheduled to begin July 8, with PBS.

“Though the Century Plaza management has expressed confidence that there will be no strike or lockout, we’ll immediately contact membership should a situation arise,” the org said. “In informal conversations with the TCA, the networks have unequivocally stated that tour programming will be presented — strike, lockout, neither or both.”

Network insiders said they’re mulling two alternate plans: Setting up the press tour at another neutral location, such as a hotel where there’s no labor dispute; or hosting their own portion of the press tour on their respective lots.

Both plans however, have their own logistical nightmares: Finding a location available for the three-week tour at the last minute may be difficult, but so would trying to move the tour — including the audio/visual setup — to a new location every two days would also add a substantial expense.

“The plan is to still be at the Century Plaza next week,” one network publicity exec said, keeping his fingers crossed.

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