Optimus One becomes union signatory

After three hours of picketing by two union locals early Dec. 8 to protest a production company’s unwillingness to sign a labor agreement that provides health benefits to members, the targeted company agreed to become a signatory of both locals.

At issue was Optimus One’s hiring of a 23-person, non-union film crew for a national TV commercial being shot at Resolution Digital Studios.

Six months ago, Studio Mechanics Local 476 and Cameramen’s Local 600 had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a labor agreement with Optimus One, the in-house production arm of the post facility. Its business was expanding into national spots and becoming a competitive factor with union signatories.

“We had a lengthy meeting with Optimus president Tom Duff at his office last summer to discuss this matter, and he was disinclined to sign with us for various reasons,” said Local 476’s Mark Hogan.

But Tuesday morning, after three hours of unrelenting picketing by 25 union members, “Optimus realized we weren’t going away,” said Local 600’s Justin Conway.

An agreement was reached by telephone with Duff, who was in his Streeterville office, Hogan said, and the documents sent over to Duff for signature. The picketers were disbanded and the production proceeded.

In signing, Optimus One became the 50th local production company to sign the AICP/Midwest Chapter Commercial Contract Agreement. Duff also signed Local 600’s National Agreement.

The Agreement provides terms of working conditions, pay scales and benefits, of which the most important is health benefits, noted Hogan, especially in economic turndowns like today.