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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

What being A casting director has to do with Transportation I don't know...

It appears that the Casting director's society is considering joining the Teamsters Union. This article contains some interesting information about the proposed link etc. One surprising bit of information for me was that under current agreements the CSA doesn't provide health care.

CSA brass mull Teamsters link

By Roger Armbrust
NEW YORK -- Members of the Casting Society of America, moving forward with their efforts to affiliate with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, met with a Teamsters representative to discuss various factors involved in casting directors joining the 1.4 million-member union.

High on the list of concerns were eligibility and health and pension benefits because casting directors have no benefits plan. Also discussed was the possibility of a strike should the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers not recognize the proposed new union.

The meeting, held Thursday in New York, included Los Angeles-based CSA president Richard Hicks; Gary Zuckerbrod, the former CSA president who is leading the unionization effort; and Hollywood-based Teamsters representative Steve Dayan.

Hicks said Tuesday that the movement, which started in the CSA, now "involves casting directors in the CSA and those not in the CSA."

Efforts to reach Zuckerbrod and Dayan for comment were unsuccessful.

According to information disseminated at the meeting, all casting directors who work in film and TV would be eligible to join the new union, which also would include a "casting associate"-level membership.

A majority of the roughly 500 New York and L.A. casting directors, associates and assistants reportedly have signed cards that authorize the Teamsters to represent them.

According to a FAQ sheet handed out at the meeting, L.A. Teamsters Local 399 would cover both New York and Los Angeles casting directors.

Work covered under contract with the proposed union would include film and TV projects produced by signatory companies. Should a production refuse to become a signatory, "you can work on the project, but the time spent will not count towards benefits," according to the FAQ sheet.

A signatory company could hire a nonunion casting director, but that person would have to join the union after a specified time, the FAQ sheet said.

Joining the Teamsters would cost casting directors a $1,560 one-time initiation fee, plus $74 a month.

The FAQ sheet noted that "in the event that we do not get recognition from the AMPTP, then we are considering the possibility of walking out."

When the AMPTP was first queried in February about the possibility of the casting directors organizing, the producers had no comment. The FAQ sheet, however, indicated that the producers opposed such unionization.

The sheet also warned that a walkout might lead to "retaliations against some members" but noted that "the Teamsters have promised us their support" and that no Teamster driver would cross a casting-director picket line.

Roger Armbrust is news editor of Back Stage.

Copyright 2004 The Hollywood Reporter

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