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Teamsters Reach Tentative Accord With Producers

Times Labor Writer

The Teamsters Union and Hollywood producers Wednesday announced tentative settlement of their 24-day-old strike, subject to approval of union members at a meeting tonight.

It also was disclosed that 600 members of the Laborers Union have settled their strike with the producers and will return to work Monday.

Representatives of about 100 striking studio electricians were reported to have concluded their negotiations with the producers late Wednesday and also are supposed to have a membership vote tonight. Picket lines around major Hollywood studios will remain up until 5 p.m. today, when members gather for the meeting.

Earl Bush, president of Teamsters Local 399, which represents 2,100 striking studio drivers, predicted that the three-year contract would be ratified at a membership meeting at the Universal Amphitheatre.

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“There’s no winner” in the strike, he said. “It’s time to go back to work and get the industry back on its feet.”

But he also made it clear that he was not enthused about the pact. In fact, Bush at first declined to answer when asked by reporters whether he would recommend the agreement to his members.

“I can recommend that it’s time to end the strike; that’s different than saying it’s a good contract or recommending it,” Bush said. “I’ve not at any time said it was good or real bad.”

He predicted that the meeting would be “very vocal and very loud.”

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Later in the day, a Teamster source close to the leadership of Local 399, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a potential obstacle to ratification was a change in rules on overtime, which was a key issue in the strike. Under the new contract, a driver will only be paid overtime on Saturday or Sunday if doing so means working more than 40 hours in a week. Previously, all weekend work was paid overtime.

On the other hand, the source said he feared that if the drivers reject the contract and continue the strike, they might lose their jobs permanently.

Results of the ratification vote are not expected to be announced until very late tonight or early Friday.

The pact was negotiated last weekend at a Florida resort where Teamsters national leaders were gathered. Word of the tentative settlement leaked out Sunday, although there was no official announcement until Wednesday, after final details were resolved.

The studios have been operating with replacement drivers, but it was assumed by both sides in the dispute that the regular drivers would get their jobs back when the strike ended. Another ranking Teamster source said that studio officials had made no suggestion that they would make the replacements permanent if the strike continued.

Earlier in the week, sources disclosed that under the agreement, most drivers would get 45-cent-an-hour wage increases for each of the next three years. The basic driver’s wage under the current contract is $16.61 an hour. Neither Bush, Nicholas Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, nor federal mediator Barbara Pickett-Conner would reveal terms of the agreement.

Counter did say, however, that “from an overall point of view the agreement will result in more jobs in our studios.”

Asked about the impact of the strike on the studios, he simply said, “we’ve been operating,” a distinct contrast to the halt in production during the 154-day writers’ strike earlier this year.

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