Hollywood fears teamsters strike could shut down movies

Transport workers are threatening to walk out over union agreement

Hollywood studios are preparing for a strike by transportation workers that many fear could prove worse than the 2007 writers’ strike.

The transportation workers, known as teamsters, will down tools if they fail to secure a new pact before their current agreement expires on August 1.

If the strike goes ahead, it could affect a number of films, as well as up to 20 TV shows currently in production, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“If it were to happen, it would be hugely unfortunate,” said Ed Bernero, executive producer on the CBS series Criminal Minds. “I really can’t speculate on what I might do if it happened, but unions are very important to me. So it would be a very difficult decision for me.”

The teamsters union, Hollywood Local 399, is expected to take a strike authorisation vote during a general membership meeting that takes place this Sunday (July 25).

This would give local leaders the right to walk away from jobs at any point after the midnight expiration of the current ‘Black Book’ agreement.

Contract negotiations started on June 14, but have hit a brick wall over financial terms. The teamsters are asking for a three per cent raise but so far have only been offered two per cent. Studios preferring the security of a three-year contract have already compromised at the union’s request and agreed to two year contracts.

One Hollywood executive told the Hollywood Reporter: “I would be surprised if there were a strike, but there are some other people here who disagree with me. The water-cooler talk is that if there is a strike, it won’t be pretty – not necessarily in terms of length or financial impact, but in terms of tone, this could be worse than the writers’ strike.”

The 100-day Writers Guild Of America strike in 2007 and 2008 caused the film industry huge losses, with networks filling schedules with reality TV after episodes of scripted shows ran out.