Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Teamsters Local 399 to go on strike Feb 1

An agency creative just asked me what all this means... Here's my take...

There has been a trend over the last 10 years to not produce commercials in the US anymore, fleeing the States to cheaper pastures overseas. This exodus has mainly been to avoid residuals fees for SAG Actors, not to save money on the production itself. While sometimes that is the case, the savings is generally marginal after travel, etc. With the pending possible strike from the Teamsters in the West, this will put production companies in an even more difficult position of encouraging clients to stay in the US. 

There's a reason that LA is the hub of production for the world-- best crews, best locations, best accessibility to equipment. Is it great to travel to other places sometimes? Absolutely. But it's hard to not think about all the jobs that are affected when you do. It's not just the Teamsters that would be affected by this strike. It's the entire crew. And while all of production should stand united, they are striking for a reason that will not go away. The AICP is asking to change the threshold for what's considered "low-budget" from $75,000 a day to $125,000. On a low-budget contract, day rates can be negotiated with crew members below scale rates. 

Let's be clear: no one wants to pay anyone below scale. No one is really “excited” about low-budget work, but with more and more web work this is the reality of production. The days of getting $250,000 a day for production are gone. The words “nimble” are used on a  daily basis— who can make a scene look like a million bucks for $500 shot on an iPhone? This is our reality, and we need to embrace it or risk becoming extinct. 

Production crews are the ultimate team and no one is diminishing the value of Teamsters— from drivers to location managers, they can clearly be argued as the backbone of the crew. No one is looking for a way to short change their value. We fight everyday to make union crews work for the budget at hand. This provision will create jobs. It will ensure that union crews aren’t a thing of the past. It’s in the best interest of everyone. Let's keep jobs in the US. Let’s look out for each other. Let’s be union supporters by supporting the greater good. 

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