Freelance Casting Assistants Move Forward With NLRB Election To Gain Union Representation From Teamsters

EXCLUSIVE: Freelance casting assistants are one step closer to gaining representation from the Teamsters.

Following a virtual meeting Monday night with nearly 100 casting assistants, the group is officially moving forward with a National Labor Relations Board election. The union announced the intent to represent them in April.

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The unit will require a simple majority to achieve union representation. If approved, it will allow freelance casting assistants to be unionized under both Teamsters Local 399 (Los Angeles) and Teamsters Local 817 (New York). They would join the existing bargaining unit of casting directors and associate casting directors.

Deadline understands that the general consensus among the existing unit is supportive. Although casting assistants have gone without representation, they’ve worked alongside casting directors for decades, making their potential transition into the unit fairly seamless.

The Teamsters are currently waiting on a final list from employers of eligible individuals, though they’ve already identified many on their own and have begun collecting authorization cards. In order to vote, individuals must have worked 15 days with the same major studio in the last year.

So far, sources tell Deadline that the union has gathered about 95% of authorization cards from the eligible members they self-identified, which is a promising number. Once the AMPTP sends the final list of eligible individuals, the union will begin campaigning more heavily to ensure a strong voter turnout. Voting will run from July 19 to August 9.

“There’s general excitement about having a voice on the job and the ability to bargain collectively,” a union source tells Deadline.

Previously, the Teamsters were also seeking the same recognition for freelance casting assistants from Netflix, which is has its own casting director agreement through its production arm, Storybuilders, LLC. However, the stipulated election agreement has allowed the Teamsters to simplify the process by encompassing all parties in a single vote.

The move comes as the Teamsters are set to begin negotiations on a new casting agreement in August. The current contract expires on September 30.

Priorities for the upcoming bargaining cycle have yet to be finalized, as surveys are going to be sent to existing casting Teamsters this month. Casting assistants have already laid out some of their big-ticket items, should they get to bargain their first contract this year, including higher wages and access to health benefits as well as a clearer career trajectory into the casting department.

“The work you all have done to get to this point, to advocate and fight for better working conditions and wages, is something to be proud of. We are not done yet. This union is yours to join,” Teamsters Local 399 Principal Officer and Motion Picture Division Director told participants on the call. “You can create a better future for this group now and for all who come after. Voting ‘yes’ for union representation is the way to get there, and a large voter turnout is the best way to show the studios we are serious when we sit down to bargain this August.”

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