Film and TV Casting Directors Ratify New Three-Year Agreement

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Casting director and associate members of the Teamsters Local 399 and Local 817 have voted to ratify a new three-year agreement with the major studios and streamers.

Ninety percent of members from both Locals supported a tentative deal reached the previous week, while 10 percent voted against the agreement in a vote that concluded on Wednesday. Seventy percent of eligible members turned out to vote, similar to the turnout for Local 399’s recent location managers contract (75 percent) and Black Book agreement (67 percent). The casting director contract applies to more than 500 members working in both New York and L.A. and will take effect Sunday, May 29.

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The priority for casting director members in this round of talks was establishing a weekly rate that could disincentivize long production schedules on episodic television projects, while associates were advocating for an increase to wages, Local 399 said.

According to a summary of key changes and memorandum of agreement that was shared with union members and explain how the contract is changing, a sideletter was added to the agreement stating that employers will pay casting directors additional wages beyond their customary episodic fee if their work on a TV series extends beyond the time period originally agreed to. Casting associates also will receive a 24 percent wage increase in the first year of the contract, receiving $23.50 an hour compared to their previous $19 an hour, a four percent wage increase in the second year (to $24.50 an hour) and six percent increase in the third year (to $26 an hour). (Associates will receive retroactive payments for these rates for work since Oct. 3, 2021.)

Other changes in the agreement include instituting sixth and seventh day premiums for casting associates, ensuring they earn 1.5 times their basic hourly rate on their sixth day of work and two times their basic hourly rate on their seventh day of work in a workweek. The AMPTP agreed to infuse an additional $370 million in the members’ health and pension plan over the course of the contract; on-call employees will also see an increase in pension and health contribution hours in the first and second year of the contract. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was added as a holiday, while payment for unworked holidays was incorporated for associates who are paid as hourly employees. The union and employers additionally agreed to create a diversity, equity and inclusion committee to improve opportunities for casting workers from underrepresented backgrounds and develop training and mentorship initiatives.

“These were difficult negotiations in which we worked diligently and collaboratively with our member-led committee throughout the entire process,” Local 399 secretary-treasurer Lindsay Dougherty said in a statement. “Our fight for both groups centered around equity and compensation. As a unit, we not only made gains across the table, but we also identified areas where we can further grow, strengthen, and support our casting members moving forward.”

Teamsters Local 817 president Tom O’Donnell said in a statement that this round of bargaining on the agreement was “easily our best.” He added, “I’m happy for our Casting members, and hats off to the leadership at Local 399.”

This round of contract negotiations, led on the Teamsters’ side by Dougherty and O’Donnell, lasted several months, beginning in early March and ending May 17. The ratification vote kicked off on Sunday, May 22, the same day Local 399 held an informational meeting for members. Prior to the vote, the Teamsters bargaining committee recommended that members vote for ratification.

The ratified casting director agreement brings Local 399’s latest bargaining cycle to an end, while Local 817 is still locked in talks with the AMPTP over their location managers agreement.

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