The 84th Academy Awards, set for February, has had a dark cloud hanging over it, and the weather doesn't seem to be clearing. After Brett Ratner pulled out of his production gig following his utterance of an anti-gay slur (and Eddie Murphy then exited as host), this news of a labor dispute hit our desk:
The people who make the Oscar statuettes in Chicago say they're at a stalemate in contract negotiations with the manufacturer, and they're asking for fellow brother-and-sister unions to support them.
This could certainly make it hard for many of the liberals in Hollywood to walk the red carpet Feb. 26. If the dispute continues that might even mean a (gasp) picket line would have to be crossed. Maybe.
The Chicago Teamsters state:
Fifty Teamsters on Chicago's North Side have reached a stalemate during contract negotiations with R.S. Owens & Company, the longtime producer of the Oscar and Emmy Awards. Owens denied wage increases to its workers from 2007-2011, and is proposing wage freezes for the next three years. Such action would leave employees without any new wages in nearly a decade.
Owens also wants to cut vacation and bereavement benefits prior to the Oscars on Feb. 26, 2012.
This as an Academy film crew was supposed to be at the factory today to document the making of the golden awards.
The workers for now say they want federal mediation so negotiations can move forward. So far the workers aren't threatening to strike or disrupt the Oscars, but they sure make it sound like those are bullets in their arsenal.
Donnie Von Moore, president of Teamsters Local 743, which reps the mini-Oscar makers:
From the Screen Actors Guild to the Directors Guild of America, most celebrities who get an Oscar are in a union themselves. They know how crucial unions are to protecting livelihood. What the workers at R.S. Owens need now is union support.
This show is doomed.