Teamsters Union Reaches Deal With Studios

Courtesy of Teamsters Local 399
Local 399 Teamsters secretary-treasurer Steve Dayan

Details of the agreement, which also covers basic craft categories, were not released.

Just four weeks after IATSE reached an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, Teamsters Local 399 and several allied unions have as well, Local 399 announced Monday. Although details were not released, the deal is likely to be similar to IATSE’s in key aspects such as basic wage increases, a phenomenon called “pattern bargaining.”

The negotiations cover Local 399’s so-called “black book,” the contract applicable primarily to drivers and animal handlers, as well four basic craft unions: IBEW Local 40 (electricians), Studio Plumbers Local 78, Studio Utility Employees Local 724 and Studio Plasterers Local 755. Contracts for Local 399 casting directors and location managers are negotiated separately.

“As usual, these negotiations were difficult and extended into the night,” said Local 399 secretary-treasurer Steve Dayan in a letter posted on the union website. “However, in the end, we were able to come to an agreement.”

Dayan said details would be released after the unions receive memoranda of agreement from the AMPTP and inform their memberships of the deal's terms. Plans for the ratification vote will also be released in coming weeks, he said.

All five unions, and key committees, unanimously support the contract, Dayan said, making ratification highly likely.

That welcoming response contrasts somewhat with the reception of IATSE’s agreement. There, 11 of 13 affected locals signed on to a letter from IATSE international president Matt Loeb recommending ratification, with one reluctantly supporting the contract anyway and another, Local 700, in open revolt. That stance does not seem to have gained traction beyond Local 700 (the Motion Picture Editors Guild), and ratification accordingly seems likely.

Even if the IATSE agreement is traveling a bumpy road, it paved the way for the Teamsters/basic crafts deal. “All of the basic crafts would like to thank the IATSE for laying the groundwork for us to be able to successfully conclude our negotiations,” said Dayan. “We’d also like to thank our committee members and our entire memberships who supported us during this process and worked tirelessly through these negotiations.”

Not that the path to a Teamsters deal has always been smooth. The union struck several times in the 1980s, including for three weeks in 1988, and 2010 talks were touch and go, but ultimately a work stoppage was avoided.