Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A contract dispute between commercial producers and Teamsters Local 399 has escalated, raising the prospect of the first Hollywood strike by the union in nearly two decades, it was reported Tuesday.

Teamsters drivers, location managers and scouts voted by a 10-to-1 margin on Sunday to reject a contract proposed by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers and to authorize their leaders to stage a walkout should they fail to reach an agreement by the end of the month, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A strike would effectively shut down commercial production in Los Angeles, where nearly half of all commercials are filmed. The union’s executive board will make the final call on whether to strike and only if negotiations break down. The union’s current contract expires Jan. 31.

“The last, best and final offer by the AICP covering Commercial Drivers and Commercial Location Scouts/Managers was resoundingly rejected by the membership,” the union said on its website. “Per the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Constitution, a no vote authorizes a strike. We have notified the AICP and are awaiting their response.”

The vote was a blow to the union’s leaders, who had recommended approval of the contract on the grounds that it would help keep more jobs in California at a time when many production jobs have fled the state, The Times reported. Although strike authorization votes are often used as a way to gain leverage in negotiations, it’s rare for members to resoundingly reject a contact recommended by their representatives.

“Obviously, we’re a little surprised and disappointed in that we did come to a mutual agreement on a deal back on Dec. 9,” said Matt Miller, president and chief executive of the AICP. “It was designed to be mutually beneficial and create additional employment opportunities for members in Local 399, as well as growth within the industry.”

Miller said no date had been set on when negotiations would resume. But he expressed hope that a walkout would be averted.

—City News Service

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