UPDATE, 8:34 AM: The union that represents healthcare workers at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s care facility and hospital is planning picket lines this week but the organization’s CEO says “progress was made” in the last set of talks between the two sides. “We were encouraged by this past week’s bargaining session with SEIU and a federal mediator,” said the MPTF’s Bob Beitcher in a statement today. In the February 14 meeting, the MPTF offered to open up their books to provide the SEIU will a full sense of their negotiating position, says a source close to the situation. The union, who won a strike authorization vote from their members on January 30, is planning to picket MPTF offices and the Woodland Hills hospital on February 21. More visibly, the SEIU is considering a picket line at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s February 23 ‘Night Before’ charity event for the MPTF at the Beverly Hill Hotel. Read MPTF CEO Beitcher’s full statement here:

We were encouraged by this past week’s bargaining session with SEIU and a federal mediator.  Progress was made in resolving a long list of open contract points and both parties were actively engaged in narrowing the discussions to a few key issues.  To facilitate additional progress, MPTF and SEIU continue to comply with additional information requests and MPTF has agreed to provide an educational workshop for SEIU’s bargaining unit.  We are hopeful that the next bargaining session on March 7th will take us even closer to achieving a mutually satisfactory 3-year agreement.

PREVIOUSLY, FEB. 15: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s 11th Annual ‘Night Before’ Oscars Fundraiser benefitting the Motion Picture and Television Fund on February 23rd could suffer a pre-strike union picket line. That’s because of a stalemated bargaining session Thursday between the MPTF and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. I have learned that the powerful union is “strongly considering” going out on the line at the charity event at the Beverly Hills Hotel. That would present guests with a dilemma because some notables also belong to unions — Hollywood guilds — and won’t want to cross the picket line. The gala has been protested before – but by families and concerned friends of the long-term care hospital and units when Katzenberg decided to close them. The guests in limousines simply whizzed past the demonstrators barely giving them a glance. But last year’s fundraiser went off without a hitch when a compromise was reached to keep the long-term care facilities open.

The SEIU-UHW has about 500 members at the MPTF’s Wasserman Campus in Woodland Hills. Two weeks ago they overwhelming voted to authorized the union to strike. Based on how badly Thursday’s meeting went, the SEIU-UHW also plans to picket the MPTF offices and hospital on February 21. The meeting yesterday saw chief union negotiator Erik Kizziee and six other representatives sit down with MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher, HR VP Nancy Rubin and their representative Douglas Hart. While in the same building, the two sides didn’t actually together to discuss the three-year contract. A federal mediator actually took proposals to each team located in different rooms. “The union moved from their original wage proposal. Management offered no changes to their stance,” says a source close to the talks. The next scheduled bargaining sessions between the two sides are set for March 7 and March 13. “Those meetings will be the last chance the MPTF has to settle this thing before the union moves into a strike mode,” the source added. The union says wages, low staffing levels, raised health care premiums and frozen retirement contributions are the main issues on the table. MPTF CEO Beitcher told employees on January 31 that staffing levels were not part of the bargaining.

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