MPTF Planning to Hire Strike Replacements as Union Advises of Walk Out

10:34 PM PST 03/08/2013 by Jonathan Handel

A strike is planned to begin in 10 days as negotiations fail to cool discord or produce a deal.

The Motion Picture and Television Fund will hire replacement workers if its unionized employees strike later this month, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The union representing 500 MPTF caregivers and other employees has notified the MPTF that it will strike for three days beginning the evening of March 18.

“On Monday we will begin polling our represented employees on their intention to report to work during the strike and will initiate plans to replace those who are choosing to honor the strike,” said MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher. “We must continue our operations which are so essential to those we serve.”

The MPTF operates a care facility and hospital in Woodland Hills and six clinics in the greater Los Angeles area.

“As far as polling workers, said a union spokesperson, “in most situations it is an Unfair Labor Practice for management to individually question the caregivers about their union activities and intentions.”

He added, “It’s disheartening that MPTF management would be so bold in their unfair labor practices, but . . . if they choose to go that route they will see just how united these caregivers are.”

The ongoing labor dispute concerns staffing levels, wage rates, proposed new health insurance premiums, and a proposed freeze of employees’ existing pension plan. The most recent talks took place Thursday, in a session that Beitcher called “productive.”

The union, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, said that the MPTF “continues to resist calls from caregivers to bargain in good faith and stop committing unfair labor practices.”

Management described the process differently.

“During the bargaining period,” said Beitcher, “we have provided SEIU-UHW with all of the information requested and while they have not reciprocated, we have nevertheless continued to bargain in good faith and continue to try to find an avenue toward resolution.”

The advance notice of intent to strike was not unexpected. The union’s chief negotiator, Eric Kizziee, previously told THR that if the bargaining scheduled for Thursday were to break down, the union would file such a notice. Such notice is required ten days prior to strikes against health care institutions.

Another bargaining session is scheduled for March 13, which could be the last opportunity to head off a strike – but the rhetoric remains heated. Said the union spokesperson, “MPTF’s bad faith bargaining is boxing (the employees) in a corner and a strike may be the only way to get that message across.”

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