Teamsters Watching Writers

Everyone from makeup artists to truck drivers - and tens of thousands of other film employees - are anxiously awaiting news from the bargaining table where screenwriters and Hollywood producers are locked in talks.

"We've been telling our members for the better part of eight or nine months to save their money because they could be out of work for a long period of time," says John Ford, secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters Union Local 52, which represents 1,800 film studio mechanics in New York.

"They're nervous. They're very, very busy now so there's not much time to think about it - but they know why they're busy," says Ford.

If there's a strike, some Teamsters may find work on commercials or independent films.

"But this is what we do for a living - when there's no work, there's no work," Ford says. "Most actors and writers can do something else."

The city reaps an annual revenue of $5.1 billion from TV, film and commercial production, and it could start drying up if the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood producers can't agree by May 1.

TV and film industries employ, directly or indirectly, 100,000 people in the tri-state area, including studio mechanics, wardrobe people, editors, painters, carpenters, lighting technicians, makeup artists, grips, caterers, copy services and moving companies.