by Rob Callahan
BURBANK, CA — A delegation of post-production technicians at Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema (DTDC) marched to the Burbank offices of Walter Schonfeld, DTDC’s President of Global Operations, this afternoon. The delegation of nearly twenty employees delivered a petition from the company’s roughly seventy unionized employees, calling upon their employer to negotiate in good faith to bring wage rates in line with industry standards.
The petition delivered today emerged from a meeting of DTDC employees on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to update employees on contract talks. In that meeting, the unionized workers roundly denounced management’s wage offers as insufficient.
“With one collective voice,” the petition reads, “in a sincere effort to avoid disruptive labor disputes, we want to send a message to management: Deluxe doesn’t work without us.”
DTDC’s unionized technicians are engaged in the production of Digital Cinema Packages. Digital Cinema Packages, the electronic equivalent of film prints, have replaced film as the primary medium for the theatrical screening of motion pictures. DTDC is the world’s dominant digital cinema facility, handling the bulk of DCP mastering and distribution for all Hollywood’s major theatrical releases, including such forthcoming titles as Fifty Shades Darker, John Wick, Lego Batman, Logan, and Beauty and the Beast.
By a margin of more than two-to-one, DTDC employees voted last September to unionize with the Motion Picture Editors Guild and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Contract talks with the company began in November and are scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
In the weeks before the election, in an effort to discourage a vote to unionize, Deluxe management had held a series of mandatory meetings and one-on-one interviews with supervisors. In those sessions, management had repeatedly offered vague assurances that the company was prepared to remedy the problem of wages that had long lagged behind market rates. Despite those assurances, at the bargaining table Deluxe has failed to offer wage schedules that significantly improve upon employees’ current sub-standard pay.
In addition to the dispute at the bargaining table over wages, on Friday the union filed unfair labor practice charges against Deluxe with the National Labor Relations Board. The unfair labor practice charges relate to certain unilateral changes to employees’ working conditions made by the company while in the midst of negotiations. An employer is required to negotiate any changes to employees’ terms and conditions of employment with those employees’ elected representative. The union charges that the company’s unilateral changes undermine the collective bargaining process.