Teamsters to keep on truckin’

Pact comes three weeks before July 31 expiration

In a move that defuses a possible nationwide strike, negotiators repping producers and five Basic Crafts unions including studio drivers have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year deal.

The pact, which must be ratified by union members, was reached Friday after the third round of negotiations between the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and the five unions.

The deal came three weeks before the July 31 expiration. Leaders of the 4,000 drivers, repped through Local 399 of the Teamsters, had taken an assertive stance prior to the June 2 start of negotiations and promised to close down every production nationwide if a satisfactory pact was not achieved by the expiration date.

Details on the deal were sketchy, as the six-week news blackout remained in place, but union members attending a briefing Sunday said the Teamsters leaders had achieved their goal of resisting a concession on low-budget TV shows. About 1,000 members of the five unions plus other unionists attended the confab at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Los Angeles.

That proposed concession was contained in a side letter signed last year by the AMPTP with the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees for wage freezes and concessions on low-budget TV series. That provision contained the unique condition that the Teamsters would agree to the same terms; it will lapse later this year without the Teamster agreement.

IATSE has insisted the side letter is part of its long-term strategy to prevent runaway production by organizing low-budget projects. The Teamsters disagreed on the benefits of such a strategy and contended the IA has no right to side with the AMPTP in demanding a concession from the Teamsters.

The tentative deal covers the Teamsters and the four other Basic Crafts unions in the talks representing Local 40 of the Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Local 724 of Laborers Intl.; Local 755 of Plasterers and Cement Masons; and Local 78 of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Industry.

The deal included a 7% hike in telepic rates and an agreement to keep all episodic TV rates at the same level for the first two years of the new deal.

Other key terms of the pact are similar to the IATSE West Coast deal signed last year — a 75¢-per-hour increase in the first year, followed by a 2.5% rise in the second and 3% in the third; and pension plan hikes of 25¢ per hour in the first year, 15¢ in the second and 10¢ in the third.

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