New Teamsters Boss: 'There's Going to Be a Real Sea Change'

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Steve Dayan

Steve Dayan, who won an upset victory over Leo Reed, promises to reorganize the union from top to bottom to help members get more jobs.

Big changes are ahead for the powerful Teamsters Local 399 -- which provides many drivers and location managers for movie and TV companies -- after Steve Dayan on Tuesday won a bitter battle to unseat Leo Reed, who had held the post of business agent for 24 years.

“We’re going to reorganize this union from top to bottom,” Dayan told The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s going to be a real sea change in the staff; the whole composition of the union is going to change dramatically.”

“We want to better serve the members and the community and create jobs for our members,” added Dayan. “That is the priority.”

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Dayan, who has also served on the California Film Commission, was Teamster Local’s business agent for about four years until he was dismissed by Reed in July after announcing he would run for the union’s top job.

Dayan ran on a slate that called itself “399 Members First,” a platform charging that Reed had not been effective in negotiating contracts, stopping runaway production, organizing companies and making necessary, up-to-date changes.

“I ran a very clean campaign,” he said. “I ran on issues, not on attacking Leo as a person. That’s not what this election was about in my mind. What this is about is our industry is changing. We need to move into the 21st century. We need to be more progressive and find ways to create more jobs, lobby more vigorously for incentives for our state -- like other states have done -- and represent our members to the best of our ability.”

Besides Dayan, who received about 56 percent of the vote, his slate took four of the other six trustee seats. Wesley Ponsford was named president, while Gary Zuckerbrod, Chris Sell and Kenny Farnell were elected as trustees. Two other trustees elected -- vp Ed Duffy and recording secretary Rosie Falcon -- supported Reed.

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Just over 2,300 ballots were cast by the union’s 4,500 members, including drivers, location managers, casting directors, animal wranglers and others located in southern California.

Dayan was recently on hand for a California legislative joint committee hearing held at SAG-AFTRA in Los Angeles, where guilds and business agreed to work together to stem runaway production and increase the amount of incentives the state offers to movie and TV productions.

Dayan promised that it's just the beginning: “We’re going to work, to make that relationship even stronger -- inter-guild, inter-union, inter-management. We need to do that if were going to get serious about creating employment in Los Angeles and in the state. We have to do these things. To me what’s been missing is dialogue. Its relationships. It’s bridge building and that’s what were going to be working to do going forward.”