Unions Offering Support to Writers

October 31, 2007 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Unions Offering Support to WritersMajor Hollywood unions were lining up behind TV and film writers Tuesday as last-minute contract talks resumed amid fears of a possible strike.

A powerful branch of the Teamsters union told its 4,500 members they can honor picket lines if TV and film writers strike after their contract expires at midnight Wednesday.

Teamsters Local 399 said in a Web posting that as a union, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts with producers.

But the local, which represents truck drivers, casting directors and location managers, said the clause does not apply to individuals, who are protected by federal law from employer retribution if they decide to honor picket lines.

“As for me as an individual, I will not cross any picket line whether it is sanctioned or not because I firmly believe that Teamsters do not cross picket lines,” union local secretary-treasurer Leo Reed wrote.

Members of the Screen Actors Guild have also voiced strong support for writers, but officials with that union have said its 150,000 members were obligated to report to work if writers strike.

Negotiations between the 12,000-member Writers Guild of America and the group representing producers adjourned Tuesday without a deal, and both sides agreed to meet again Wednesday.

A federal mediator joined the talks in an effort to break a stalemate. The mediator will return Wednesday, when the WGA is expected to present an updated proposal.

A key issue involves giving writers more money from the sale of DVDs and the distribution of shows via the Internet, cell phones and other digital platforms.

Early Tuesday, writers visited studio lots to distribute leaflets to Teamster truck drivers urging support of their cause.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents networks and studios, sent a letter to craft unions representing electricians, drivers and other trades, reminding them of the “no strike” clauses in their contracts.

“We expect each union to comply with this no strike obligation and order your members to work,” alliance president J. Nicholas Counter wrote.

A strike by writers would not immediately have an impact on TV or film production. Most shows have enough scripts in hand to get them though early next year.

After that, networks might turn to reality shows, news programs and reruns to fill the airwaves.

Source: www.cinema-pedia.com

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