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Teamsters, craft unions ratify contract

Pact covers some 5,000 below-the-line workers

Hollywood Teamster drivers and four other basic craft unions have ratified a three-year successor deal to their master contract with the major studio and network producers.

Deal was ratified Sunday at a meeting in Burbank with 86% support, according to Teamster attorney Joseph Kaplon.

The pact covers about 5,000 below-the-line workers. Key pension and health issues had been already settled in April, when the five unions had jointly negotiated on health-care issues for the first time with the West Coast locals of Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — which reached a tentative overall deal that was also recently ratified.

The Teamster-Basic Crafts contract is along the same lines as the IATSE agreement, which contains 2% annual wage increases. The tentative agreement on the Teamsters deal was reached June 29.

The contract covers about 4,000 Teamster drivers in the 13 Western states, with the contract negotiated jointly with four other Basic Crafts unions repping about 1,000 workers: Local 40 of the Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Local 724 of the Studio Utility Employees; Local 755 of Plasterers and Cement Masons; and Local 78 of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Industry.

IATSE agreed two years ago to form an alliance with the Teamsters and the unions synched up their contract expirations so both deals would expire July 31.

The IATSE deal includes a 2% annual wage hike along with $250 million in new employer contributions to the health plan. IATSE has touted the deal as better than the master contract deals reached in 2010-11 by SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America, which provided for 2% in minimum wage hikes and a 1.5% increase in benefit contributions.

When the deal was announced on April 13, IATSE president Matthew Loeb said it would resolve an anticipated funding shortfall of more than $400 million in the union’s pension and health plans. In exchange, IATSE agreed to the first-ever premiums for health plan coverage — $25 per month for participants with one dependent and $50 for those with two or more dependents, or $75 and $150 per quarter, beginning next year, while those without dependents will continue not to pay premiums.

Local 399 secretary-treasurer Leo Reed told members last month that it would be “foolish” to strike on a contract on a total package that has wage increases and no takeaways, even including the premiums. He also praised Loeb and IATSE motion picture chief Mike Miller.

“It is still the best plan in Hollywood and one of the best in the country,” Reed said. “Facing the huge deficit of $425 million, Matt Loeb and Mike Miller had the members’ interest at heart, and we support them. We will never condemn the men in the arena.”

In the 2010 negotiations, Teamsters sought 3% in annual wage hikes but the companies insisted on a 2% wage gain, which the Teamsters accepted with several sweeteners along with the same 1.66% hike in benefits contained in the earlier IATSE deal. The Teamster deal set the template for negotiations in late 2010 and early 2011 with SAG, AFTRA, the WGA and the DGA.

Both the successor deals for IATSE and Basic Crafts go into effect Aug. 1.

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