West Coast Commercial Scouts
get Union Benefits
August 1 2003, all the major commercial production companies, over 100, have signed the contract. Anyone working more than 30 days as a location scout with a signatory company must join the Union. 
August 1 2002, Contract takes effect.
July 2002, The commercial Scouts/Managers vote to ratify a contract with AICP. 
June 2002, AICP recognizes the Teamsters Local 399 as the exclusive bargaining representative of Location Scouts/Managers. 
March 2002, Commercial scouts authorize a strike in case AICP fails to sign a contract in July 2002. Since most production companies are paying us on a union time card already, we believe the likelyhood of such an event is slim. But we are ready for the picket lines if that's what it takes... 
June 2000, one hundred commercial scouts, including all the top players have joined Teamsters Local 399.
April 5 2000 AICP Companies agree to start paying union location scouts union benefits under a handshake agreement with no union contract.
March 10, 2000 In an intimidation attempt, AICP threatens this website's author with lawsuit.
Feb 22, 2000 We salute Dektor Films as the first Commercial production company to sign the Union Contract.

Background info (written in the Spring of 2000)

Why union?
Commercial Location scouts and Managers were the only people outside the production office who didn't get union benefits, mainly health and pension benefits. In 1996, IATSE signed an agreement with AICP that gave union benefits to almost the entire crew (camera, grips, electric, hair, make-up, sound, art, script, special effects.) In July 98 the drivers entered into a similar agreement. Why not us? A major obstacle had been that the local 399 for Feature/TV location managers required 300 days working as an assistant, to be accepted into their union. This obstacle will be lifted for commercials.

Why the Teamsters?
Mainly because the feature/TV location managers are already there. We looked at the option of a non-union professional association with group insurance and we talked with scouts who had formed something similar in New York ten years ago. It seemed too hard to pull off and the New York experience shows that's even harder to maintain. We looked at IATSE. There was no desire from other locals such as the Art Department or the Still Photographers to fold us in. We could form our own just commercial scouts local, but we would be the smallest local in IATSE with little power and big overhead. We understand the baggage that comes with the Teamster reputation but we believe, it's the individual's conduct and not their union affiliation that counts. Stuart Barter is probably considered the top commercial scout, earning assignments around the world and he's been a Teamster for 20 years. Furthermore a new era has started at Local 399 with the appointment of Steve Dayan on Dec '99 as business agent for Location Managers.

Who is behind this?
You've probably heard about locolist, the online discussion group for location scouts and managers. We currently have 250 subscribers, of which half work on commercials. We have discussed unionizing over the past year and debated extensively all the different options. We've had well attended public meetings in June, September and November of '98. In September '98 we decided that unionizing would be a good idea and elected a seven member committee to approach different unions and see what they have to offer. DGA showed no interest, IATSE showed lukewarm interest and the Teamsters Local 399 showed enthusiastic interest. On Nov 19 '98, we had another meeting. It was well attended and we voted unanimously to go with 399. Since then 80 scouts or 95% of the total number of scouts have signed cards authorizing the Teamsters to represent them.
On Feb 11, 99 we had another meeting to decide what we'd want in our collective bargaining agreement. What came out of the meeting was nothing outlandish, just existing industry practices with health and pension benefits of course.

Negotiation History?
For the entire year of 1999 AICP refused to sit and negotiate with us. They were too busy negotiating the motorhome drivers contract. So we wrote one ourselves. We showed it to AICP and although they repeated again that they would not negotiate and they would not endorse it, they left us with the impression that they would remain neutral and not oppose it if we approached the production companies individually. On Feb 16, 2000 we mailed a contract to every commercial production company in the West Coast. A lot of companies found it reasonable and expressed interest in signing. But they "had to check with the AICP first". At that point we lost them. The line we kept hearing from executive producers was "AICP is telling us not to sign".
On March 13, 2000 AICP companies had a meeting and voted not to sign.
On March 14, 2000 the commercial location scouts had a meeting. There was clearly no option left than picketing. But we felt that until this moment AICP companies had no grasp of how wide spread the desire for unionization is. They are under the impression that this is some sort of power grab by the Teamsters. We decided to put our names on the line and give them a few more days.

We sent a letter to the AICP companies signed by close to 100 commercial location scouts and managers. We asked them to recognize Teamsters Local 399 as our bargaining agent. To come to the table and start a dialog. In the first week of April Local 399, business agent Steve Dayan reached a handshake agreement that production companies would start paying union benefits to union scouts.

In the following two months 100 location scouts joined the Union .

Some background material.

Commercial Location Scouts/Managers Agreement
1996 Agreement between AICP and IATSE

Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans

Teamsters Local 399 (the Location Managers Union)