Hollywood Teamsters Go On Strike
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ More than 2,000 Hollywood drivers went on strike today after a weekend of negotiations with producers failed to avert the entertainment industry’s second walkout this year, an official said.
″We’re going to be out a while, I’m sure of that,″ Earl Bush, secretary- treasurer of Teamsters Local 399, said after talks broke off at 1:40 a.m. ″They want us to strike. They want us to break the union as far as I’m concerned.″
Members of the electricians, laborers and plasterers unions also have authorized strikes today against the producers, said Bush, who estimated the number of workers on strike will total 3,300 to 3,500. There was no immediate answer at the offices of the other three unions.
The Hollywood plumbers union, the smallest of five crafts unions, announced last week it would not strike.
Herb Steinberg, a spokesman for television and film producers, had said previously that the strike by the 2,200 Teamsters would not cripple the film and television industry. Hollywood is just beginning to return to full speed following the 22-week strike by the Writers Guild of America that ended in August.
Under their contracts, the writers and members of other talent unions such as actors and directors cannot honor picket lines set up by craft unions such as the Teamsters.
Bush said the Teamsters made several concessions, but they were all rejected by the producers. Strikers targeted two sites for picketing today: the Santa Monica Pier, where NBC’s ″Hunter″ is being filmed, and at the Hollywood office of the show’s producer, Stephen J. Cannell. About two dozen pickets arrived outside the office shortly after 5:30 a.m.
Teamster driver Clyde Lucas said he didn’t find out about the strike until he arrived for work early today at the Paramount Studios. ″I assumed we were going to work,″ Lucas said. ″But when I arrived at the studios, there was a lockout.″
Federally mediated talks began Friday morning following Thursday’s announcement that the union had voted 1,441-196 to reject what the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said was their last contract offer.
Both sides remained at the bargaining table for a series of talks during the weekend at the alliance’s headquarters in suburban Sherman Oaks. Sunday’s session, which began at 5 p.m., lasted more than eight hours, Bush said.
Bush has called the producers’ offer ″the worst contract offer ever made to a union.″
The drivers are responsible for transporting everything from stars to equipment and props to and from the sets, said union spokesman Mike Shepherd.
Key issues dividing the two sides include overtime rules, salaries and guidelines for the making of non-union films. Some Teamster drivers are being asked to take a pay cut from $16.61 to $14 per hour.
″We’ll strike until we can get a settlement we can live with,″ Bush said following the vote.
The producers have said their terms are final and there is no room for further negotiations. They contend the pay cuts are necessary if production costs in Hollywood are to remain competitive.
″We have trained drivers and we’re ready to continue production under any circumstances,″ Steinberg said previously. ″I don’t think it will have any impact on production. The studios are very well prepared.″