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Unions rally for L.A. Film School faculty

Protesters alledge illegal tactics to block organizing efforts

Hollywood unions drew about 150 supporters to a lively protest over the Los Angeles Film School allegedly using llegal tactics to block efforts to organize the 125 faculty members.

The rally, held at mid-day Wednesday outside the Sunset Boulevard offices, drew support from AFTRA, the DGA, WGA, Actors Equity, the American Federation of Musicians and several locals of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Several WGA members toted the familiar red-and-black picket signs from the 2007-08 strike.

The union supporters alleged the school had fired union supporter Brandii Grace and disciplined another supporter since the union began organizing on Feb. 2 to become part of the California Federation of Teachers. The school’s also requiring faculty to attend anti-union meetings.

“The school has taken very extreme measures,” said Peter Q. Nguyen, CFT field rep. “They have a First Amedment right to express their opposition, but they’re prohibited from engaging in harassment and intimidation.”

Nguyen said the union’s filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board over the firing. He also said the CFT’s also submitted authorization cards from 84 of the 125 school staffers to trigger an election on the question of unionizing but alleges that the school has used delaying tactics to prevent that vote from taking place.

Reps of the school had no comment on the allegations. Diana Derycz-Kessler, the school president and chief executive officer, issued a statement saying in part, “We value the direct working relationships we have always had with our faculty and look forward to working collaboratively to continue making the Los Angeles Film School and the Los Angeles Recording School best-in-class leaders in entertainment education.”

WGA West board member Howard Rodman, a former chair of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, told the crowd that the Film School faculty is dedicated to its students.

“They would work for free,” Rodman added. “Just because they would doesn’t mean they should be forced to.”

DGA member Larry Kostroff, who’s on the faculty, spoke at the rally and Bryan Unger, western exec diretor of the DGA, issued a letter Wednesday to Derycz-Kessler that expressed “strong disappointment and dismay” at the tone and content of her recent communications.

“I am frankly quite surprised at the apparent anti-union bias which is being conveyed to employees,” he added. “A quick review of your faculty reveals a number of strong union members and union supporters, and I find it highly unlikely that they support the anti-union nature of your correspondence and actions.”

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