January 28, 2005

Casters Say 'Nay' to AMPTP Offer

1/19 Backstage
Casters Say ‘Nay’ to AMPTP Offer

By Roger Armbrust

Film studio and television network producers have encouraged casting directors to accept nonunion benefits, but the casting directors’ leaders have restated their dedication to aligning with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) offered the “non-affiliate” alternative in a meeting last weekend with New York and Los Angeles casting leaders and representatives of the Teamsters union’s New York City and L.A. locals.

“The AMPTP said that they were willing to form a committee to explore the possibility of non-affiliate status coverage for casting directors,” said the casters’ union’s steering committee in an e-mail to its members last Friday. “The steering committee is, however, committed to obtaining full recognition through the Teamsters for all casting directors and associates.”

The meeting broke a stalemate in which the producers had refused to recognize or meet with the casting directors and Teamsters union officials. The AMPTP has invited the casters to another meeting on Feb. 1, but the casting directors’ leaders, in the e-mail, appeared wary that producers might attempt to split members’ allegiance to the unionization effort.

“Be prepared,” the steering committee warned. “Executives at studios are going to tell you that they offered us non-affiliate benefits. As we voted in both N.Y. and L.A., we are pursuing full union recognition, and nothing less. Non-affiliate status is not an acceptable option. Almost all other crafts work under collective bargaining agreements which offer them a wide variety of protections not available under non-affiliate status. There is no reason casting directors should accept any less.”

The leaders urged casting directors to remain resolute in their efforts to affiliate with the Teamsters.

“We have gotten this far because of our solidarity and commitment,” the steering panel stressed. “We must not lessen our resolve. They are beginning to understand the power of our unity. Be stronger, be more vocal, and continue to demand full union recognition!”

The casting leaders noted that the AMPTP’s website boasts of its wide range of contracts in film and TV production. They quoted the site as stating, “The AMPTP negotiates 80 industry-wide collective bargaining agreements that cover actors, craftpersons, directors, musicians, technicians, and writers — virtually all of the people who work on theatrical and television motion pictures.”

Posted by Clint at January 28, 2005 12:04 AM