Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Possible Teamsters strike could affect Criminal Minds

Hollywood preps for Teamsters walkout.

Ed Bernero speaks about the possible strike.

Television would be hit hardest.

That's the consensus among industryites prepping for a possible strike by Hollywood transportation workers should the Teamsters fail to secure a new pact before its current agreement expires Aug. 1. Upward of 20 shows are in production ahead of the fall television season.

"If it were to happen, it would be hugely unfortunate," said Ed Bernero, executive producer on the CBS series "Criminal Minds." "I really can't speculate on what I might do if it happened, but unions are very important to me. So it would be a very difficult decision for me."

It's possible the Teamsters would agree to work under a contract extension even if their pact expires without a new agreement in place, but the union's Hollywood Local 399 is expected to take a strike-authorization vote during a general membership meeting set for 8 a.m. Sunday in Burbank. That would arm Local leaders with the ability to walk at any point after the midnight expiration of the Local's current "Black Book" agreement a week from Saturday; even the prospect of a strike has production execs puzzling over ways of getting actors and others on and off their lots without crossing picket lines.

The transportation union's talks with Hollywood studios involve proposals for a new two- or three-year contract but have hit an impasse over money terms. The Teamsters want annual raises of 3%; management is offering 2% yearly boosts. The studios would prefer a three-year deal but are offering two years at the union's request, which would allow the Teamsters to synch up their contract expiration with IATSE's. That, in turn, would give the Teamsters more input into contract matters affecting the pension and health plan that covers members of both unions.

Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers president Carol Lombardini and Teamsters attorney Joe Kaplan remain in touch this week ahead of the next formal bargaining session, set for 10 a.m. Friday at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, and another session could be scheduled for next week. An additional session would seem only natural, as a successful strike-authorization vote would enhance the union's hand at the bargaining table, and management appears inclined to agree to continued talks.

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