Teamsters Prepare To Strike TV Commercials Industry – Update

2ND UPDATE, 1: 40 PM: Teamsters Local 399 is signing up members for picket duty in preparation for a possible strike against producers of TV commercials, the latest step in a looming showdown that could drive many commercial productions out of Los Angeles and the state.

Local 399 Secretary-Treasurer Steve Dayan — who also is chairman of the California Film Commission, which seeks to keep production jobs in California – has told his members to sign up for picket duty “in preparation for a potential job action on February 1.” That’s when the local’s current contract with the Association of Independent Commercial Producers expires, giving producers plenty of time to make arrangements to shoot their commercials outside the local’s jurisdiction, which includes all of California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.

“It is unfortunate that the union is gearing up their strike machine before all avenues towards resolution of our differences have been exhausted,” AICP President and CEO Matt Miller told Deadline today. “In just the past 24 hours, I have heard of dozens of productions that had been scheduled or planned for Los Angeles and are already in the process of moving to other states or outside the U.S. These are thousands of jobs that are being lost and revenue that will never be recovered for the L.A. businesses that rely on commercials.”

A protracted strike could be bad news for Los Angeles, which last year saw 5,192 days of commercial production.

UPDATED, January 12, 1: 28 PM: Association of Independent Commercial Producers just issued a statement about the Teamsters voting to strike the TV commercials industry: “We are disappointed that the members of 399 did not give full consideration to the positive impact that the terms of the mutually agreed to deal would have on the industry and the increased employment opportunities it would mean for 399 members. Furthermore, the mere mention of a strike, as has been posted on their website, is a detriment to the industry and to the production infrastructure of Los Angeles.”

PREVIOUSLY, 10:58 AM: Members of Teamsters Local 399 have voted overwhelmingly to strike the TV commercials industry, though a strike can still be averted if producers make a better offer before the current pact expires January 31.

On Sunday, the Teamsters voted 414-36 to reject the Association of Independent Commercial Producers’ “last best and final offer” for a new pair of contracts covering drivers and location managers. It’s a sharp rebuke of the local’s leadership, which had recommended ratification of the contracts. It’s rare — almost unheard of — for union members in Hollywood to reject a contract recommended by their leaders.

The drivers’ chief complaint is with the “tiered” pay scales the proposed contract provides for drivers on low-budget commercials.

“Per the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Constitution, a no vote authorizes a strike,” the local said on its website. “We have notified the AICP and are awaiting their response.”

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