Teamsters Will Skip Hollywood Strike
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Even as the Writers Guild of America prepared to resume
bargaining Tuesday with film and television producers, the chief Teamsters
Union official in Hollywood suggested his members will continue working if
the writers strike.
"If it comes down to it, my members come first," Leo Reed, head of
Teamsters Local 399 in North Hollywood, told the Los Angeles Times. "We
usually honor other locals' picket lines. But if there is a writers strike
and there is work to be done, I'll support my members."
The comments are the latest in a series of developments that could bring
new pressure on television and film writers to settle their contract
dispute with the studios.
Concerns have been raised about a strike at a time when the economy is
softening, and efforts are underway by other Hollywood unions to avert a
work stoppage. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has announced a
public relations campaign to avert the strike.
The contract for the WGA's 11,000 members expires May 1. Talks with the
Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers broke off last month with
Contracts for two unions representing actors - the Screen Actors Guild and
the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists - also expire June
30. Industry leaders have been following the writers' talks as an
indication for how the actors' negotiations will proceed.
The recent developments have created a new glimmer of optimism.
"The probability of us settling this thing is better than 50 percent. We
have smart people on both sides, and we both have an incentive to fix
this," said Charles Holland, co-chairman of the writers guild's negotiating
The WGA is asking for more money for writers when programs are rebroadcast
domestically and in foreign markets and when shows are distributed on
video, DVD and the Internet.
The West Coast division of the writers guild already has set up a loan fund
of nearly $10 million for its members in case of a strike.
The actors' unions, which cover 135,000 performers, have not yet made their
contract demands public.
The Teamsters local represents nearly 4,000 workers in Hollywood who
perform jobs that would be jeopardized by a walkout. Reed's comments
underscore the historic tensions between Hollywood's labor guilds and its
blue-collar workers, who complain actors and writers have failed to support
them during their strikes.
A WGA official declined to comment on Reed's statements.
The nonprofit Los Angeles County Development Corp. has said a work stoppage
would mean losses of about $457 million a week for Hollywood and related
businesses in Southern California.