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Most producers I know have their favorite teamster captains and are skilled at figuring out whose personality will mesh best with the particular needs of production. But the “teamster casting” process takes a new twist according to day’s Variety, which notes that 500 New York and L.A. casting directors are formally seeking to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

“The casting directors and associates cite lack of health care coverage, late pay and performing uncompensated work as key issues that have driven the organizing effort,” Variety writes.

The Variety article goes on to suggest that casting directors may be unhappy with their independent contractor status: “Currently, casting directors operate as independent contractors. Among the complaints: They’re routinely hired for eight-week periods and then required to work two extra weeks without compensation, and they’re forced to absorb such costs as office space, payroll taxes and worker’s compensation insurance for their employees.”

Of course, all the above applies to any small business owner, and most casting agencies are structured as small businesses, with all the negative but also positive tax and employment benefits that that designation implies.

I spoke to one casting director who pooh-poohed the effort, claiming that the rules being discussed would prevent casting agents from casting the small films that allow them to find new actors and boost their careers.

According to the article, casting directors are threatening to strike if they are not formally recognized as a bargaining unit. We’ll keep you informed…

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