Nearly 200 Tram Drivers and Tram Garage Workers at Teamsters Local 399 Secure New Agreement with Universal Studios Hollywood
(HOLLYWOOD, Calif.) – After more than a month of bargaining, Teamsters Local 399 members at Universal Studios Hollywood ratified a new three-year agreement late Tuesday, June 7. The Universal Studios Hollywood Tours Agreement covers almost 200 members who work as tram drivers and mechanics at the amusement park.
Local 399 Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Motion Picture Division Director and Western Region Vice President, Lindsay Dougherty, opened the negotiations on May 4. Business Agent Jason Ide served as the lead negotiator alongside Business Agent Ernie Barraza, Local 399 legal counsel and an eight-person, member-led committee.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Universal Studios Hollywood was shut down for the safety of the guests, leaving many of the employees at Universal Studios Hollywood Tours without work for months. Since the pandemic shutdown, the park has had to recruit and train many new employees which ushered in new areas of focus for the recent contract fight.
“This was a unique bargaining cycle where the unit sought to not only significantly increase wages over the three-year term, but also to collapse the current tiered wage system that is based on shift counts,” Dougherty said. “Tiered wages based on experience has long been a tactic to cause disruption to the cohesiveness of a unionized workplace. Our member-led committee was able to chip away at this practice to bring the unit closer together by eliminating the lowest tier and significantly reducing shift counts. It’s an ongoing battle but we are proud of what the committee was able to accomplish.”
The newly ratified contract includes:
- Highest percentage increases in wages in recent contract cycles.
- Collapsing of lowest tier and reduction of shift counts.
- Preservation of all medical and retirement benefits.
- Additional vacation accrual.
- Addition of provisions and language cleanup to allow flexibility in the workplace due to Universal Studios fluctuating seasons.
The full ratified memorandum of agreement can be found here.
“The education around the tentative agreement and ratification process of this agreement tested the resolve of the unit. Ultimately, they stood together in solidarity to overwhelmingly accept the proposed agreement,” Dougherty continued. “This process has also helped our Union team and committee understand the ongoing issues to be addressed outside of the bargaining table. We are looking forward to further engaging this group with regular meetings to grow and improve the strength and camaraderie of the entire unit. As we told the group, the fight for the next contract starts now.”
The final ratification count was 95.8 percent “yes” votes with a 91-percent voter turnout. Contract negotiations for Local 399 members who work on the City Walk area of Universal Studios Tours are set to commence in the fall of next year.
Teamsters Local 399 represents 5,500 members in the Motion Picture Industry including; Drivers, Animal Trainers/Handlers, Wranglers, Dispatchers, DOT Admins, Location Professionals, Casting Professionals, Chef Assistants, Mechanics, Auto Service and Warehouse workers.