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December 23, 2004

Casting Directors OK Teamsters As Union Seek Recognition From Motion/Television Producers

Possible Strike Looms

In December, about 500 Casting Directors in both Los Angeles and New York have moved closer to becoming members of Teamster Local 399, but the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) says group canít be repped by a union. The Casting Directors Ė one of the last non-union trades in Hollywood and New York Ė donít see it that way and a possible strike looms if they arenít granted recognition as a bargaining union of the Teamster local.

Teamsters leaders have warned studios and nets that the casting directors and their associates will go on strike if the companies refuse to allow the employees to unionize. AMPTP in turn warned Teamsters there would be legal challenges if they persist in strike plans and that any individual currently under contract to perform services refusing to perform agreed-to services would be a breach of contract and would subject the Teamsters to liability for interference with contractual relations.

The Casting Directors and their associates say lack of health-care coverage, late pay and performing work without compensation are the key issues in their efforts to organize. The effort to organize the group began two years ago by Teamsters Local 399, which also represents 4100 studio drivers, location managers and location scouts. In June, AMPTP informed the union the proposed unit would not be appropriate under federal law, citing supervisory and/or independent contractor status of these individuals.

Next month, Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. and SAG President Melissa Gilbert plan to hold a joint news conference to highlight support of the Teamsters union along with endorsements from SAG, WGA, DGA and AFTRA.

No word yet on how the work stoppage or organizing efforts will affect theater.

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