Layoffs scheduled to hit local entertainment industry

More than 175 employees at entertainment-related companies in Burbank likely will be laid off starting in December, many as a result of outsourcing custodial services, studio representatives said.

Sixty-seven workers at Walt Disney Studios — mostly janitors, along with a few floor waxers — were given notices that will go into effect by Dec. 1, according to the California Employment Development Department.

The company decided to contract out janitorial services on its studio lot, representatives said.

“We chose to outsource the service,” said spokeswoman Michelle Bergman. “We anticipate that they’ll all be hired by the vendor we’ve chosen.”

The employees are currently unionized and represented by SEIU United Service Workers West.

The union has been negotiating with Disney representatives for months regarding the change, said Dave Stilwell, assistant to the union’s president.

The main sticking point is that Disney does not want the new vendor to participate in the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans, which provides health and retirement benefits to workers, Stilwell said.

He said the union held similar negotiations with Universal a few months ago and studio representatives agreed to allow the new contractor to be included in the benefits fund.

The main problem would be that Disney employees who are almost vested in their pensions would lose their retirement funds, Stilwell said.

If the two sides can’t agree, the union will present Disney’s proposal to the workers for consideration. If they don’t accept it, there could be a labor dispute, Stilwell said.

NBCUniversal issued 50 layoff notices effective Dec. 31, according to the state.

The employees — who primarily fill technical and operations positions — are represented by the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians - Communications Workers of America, Local 53.

Union president Steve Ross said NBCUniversal officials are saying the workers aren’t needed because the company no longer owns the studio lot in Burbank, which it sold in 2007.

Some of the air-conditioning and building-services workers have been hired by the lot’s new owner, Ross said. However, production staffers who work on “Days of Our Lives” are still in limbo, he added.

Ross said he has filed grievances against NBCUniversal over the layoffs.

“I don’t agree with what they’re doing,” he said.

Technicolor Creative Services USA Inc. handed out 60 notices that are slated to go into effect by Dec. 17. According to information filed with the state, the layoffs are due to a closure; however, it does not detail whether the closure is related to a facility or a department.

Technicolor has moved out of its offices at 1631 Gardena Ave. in Glendale, along with its main receptionist for several buildings in that area, to an office on Los Feliz Road.

A representative for Technicolor declined to comment on employment issues.


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