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March 28, 2017

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Updated: Mar. 28 (01:01)

James R. Hoffa Memorial College Student Essay
Teamsters Local Union No. 677
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Teamsters Local 355
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Teamsters Local 455
New Baltimore Film Production Means More 355 Jobs
Updated On: Jan 09, 2012

Maryland has a new go-to role on television — Washington

'House of Cards' is the latest in a string of political dramas filmed in the stat

By David Zurawik and Chris Kaltenbach
January 5, 2012

Cross-posted from The Baltimore Sun

For almost two decades, Baltimore was mainly seen by the TV industry as a place to make shows about cops and crime. But now, the city is looking more like the nation's capital to some of Hollywood's top producers.

On Thursday, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced that "House of Cards" — a Washington-set TV series starring Kevin Spacey — will be filmed in Baltimore this spring, making it the third political drama to be produced in Maryland in less than a year.

"This current run of going three for three with Washington political stuff is really something," said Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office. "And we're doing it in TV productions featuring Oscar and Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning producers, writers and directors."

Produced by director David Fincher, "Cards" will be the first original series from Netflix, one of Hollywood's distribution giants with 20 million subscribers. The remake of the acclaimed British series joins HBO's "VEEP" series, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and "Game Change" a made-for-TV movie starring Julianne Moore and Ed Harris. The two HBO productions are set to premiere this spring.

Since the start of production on NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Streets" in 1992 through the end of filming on HBO's "The Wire" in 2007, Baltimore has been home to TV series that came to typify what's been characterized as "gritty urban drama." And there certainly is no shortage of locations and neighborhoods that lend themselves to that depiction of the city.

But the current trio of TV productions have Baltimore serving as stand-in for Washington —with greater economic benefits for Maryland workers and small businesses.

And while the city has played that role before in several one-shot feature films such as "Enemy of the State," doing it in a continuing TV series is another matter altogether — providing employment and infusions of Hollywood money to the local economy for months and years, instead of weeks.

Producers and Hollywood executives say the attributes that make Baltimore most attractive as a stand-in for Washington are the architectural similarities, easier logistics and lower costs. And by basing your operation in Maryland, you can have Washington itself and its iconic sights, they say, in controlled one- and two-day bites without having to pay Washington prices.

"What happens is you end up shooting some establishing shots of Washington," said John Melfi, the executive producer of the Netflix series. "But you also need the way that Baltimore ties in so well with Washington in pieces, in terms of its architecture and its looks. The textures of Baltimore and Maryland will give us a lot of credibility."

But it took more than proximity, architectural synergy and lower costs, according to those involved in the negotiations. It took political muscle, hustle and money — things usually associated more closely with Washington than Baltimore.

Maryland's Film Office has been targeting Washington productions for years, Gerbes said. "Any time we would get wind of a D.C.-based show, we're right on the phone with them, saying, 'Have you ever considered Maryland?'" Gerbes said.

Maryland went head-to-head with Washington on the Netflix project, according to Leslie Green, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development. Green confirmed that her office had been in negotiations with the producers to bring "House of Cards" to Washington.

But their effort failed because they could not offer the kind of incentives Maryland could, she said Thursday. The filmmakers will be shooting only seven to nine days in Washington.

"We did not get as many days as we had hoped for because of that incentive program. It's basically a money game," she said, explaining that her office has "not been able to get re-funded" this year at the $4 million level it previously enjoyed.

Incentives from the state played an important role in bringing all three productions to Maryland, according to Debbie Donaldson Dorsey, director of the Baltimore Film Office and secretary of the Maryland Film Industry Coalition.

"The film industry is returning to Baltimore thanks to the Maryland Film Production Employment Act," Dorsey said.

The film production act, which was passed in the last legislative session and signed into law by O'Malley in May, provides tax credits of 25 percent for film and 27 percent for TV series on certain in-state expenditures by production companies. Hollywood trade publications have pegged "House of Cards" as a $100 million production.

TV and film production in Maryland disappeared with the end of HBO's "The Wire," and many of the skilled production workers in the area had to go on location to other states to find work in recent years — until the arrival of "VEEP" and "Game Change," which not only put local actors and production workers back to work, but provided contracts for small area businesses that provided everything from scenery to set decorations and food to the visiting filmmakers.

"The production is estimated to have a $75 million economic impact and is projected to create over 2,000 jobs for local crew, actors and extras and support hundreds of Maryland businesses," O'Malley said Thursday.

One of those workers is Michael Davis, a member of Local 487 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The last two years, he's had to go to Michigan and Ohio for TV work. A married father of two teen daughters, Davis spent 20 weeks in Michigan working on Wes Craven's "Scream 4."

But this past year, he has worked as a construction coordinator for "VEEP." Members of the "VEEP" crew are likely to work on "House of Cards," which has already started preproduction, according to Melfi.

"What this means to guys like me is that we don't have to leave Maryland, don't have to leave home and be away from our families to find work," Davis said. "And that's great.

"It also means we'll be spending our money here instead of in another state," he added. "We spend a lot of money [making scenery] on fuel, lumber and equipment. And instead of spending all that money in Michigan or Ohio, now it's being spent here in Baltimore and Maryland."


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  • The ‘Let’s Get America Working!’ campaign seeks to restore a dynamic and prosperous middle class to drive economic growth by helping to advance policy decisions that create and maintain good middle-income jobs, guarantee retirement security, expand access to the American Dream, and ensure that the benefits of the ongoing economic recovery are felt by the many, not just the few.

  • We Are eXPOsing XPO’s Global Greed

    XPO Logistics is a top ten global logistics and transportation company with annual revenue of $15 billion and 89,000 employees, another 10,000 workers classified as independent contractors, and thousands more working for firms that subcontract with XPO. We are the REAL workers at XPO Logistics worldwide exposing the truth about the company’s global greed, illegal wage theft, unsafe conditions, and abhorrent and vicious anti-worker, anti-union tactics. 

    This greed includes mistreating former Con-way Freight workers in the United States who are being kept in the dark about terminal closures and layoffs, and the company’s illegal refusal to bargain contracts and denying their workers’ federally protected right to organize. It also includes port, rail and last-mile drivers around the country and in Southern California fighting wage theft in excess of $200 million because they are misclassified as independent contractors and denied the right to form their union. This greed has caused numerous lawsuits and strikes.  Greed also means an unsafe workplace and mistreating its warehouse employees.

    XPO’s greed extends to Europe beginning with breaking its promise to not layoff any workers for at least 18 months. French workers and the unions have been fighting back against XPO’s disrespect, lies and attempts to slash jobs. Similar struggles are taking place in Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and across Europe.

    Join the worldwide struggle now! Get involved with this campaign by joining the Facebook group “XPO Exposed.”

    Together, we can eXPOse the company’s global greed and win fairness, respect and dignity for tens of thousands of XPO employees around the world!

  • This webpage provides information on the Teamsters Union’s legislative advocacy at both the federal and state level as well as our field activity to support those policy positions and to get strong labor candidates elected to office.  Among other resources, you will find our federal legislative scorecard, formal statements of policy position and communications to Capitol Hill,  a weekly update on federal legislative happenings, an overview of bills we are tracking at the state level, and quick links to take action on priority issues.

  • Negotiations for the National Master Automobile Transporters Agreement (NMATA) recently concluded and a tentative agreement has been reached. On Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 representatives from carhaul local unions met in Detroit to endorse the National Agreement and the Central-Southern Supplement, paving the way for members to vote. The Eastern and Western Supplements were approved in 2016, and will not be re-voted. However, all carhaul members will get to exercise their right to vote on the National Agreement and General Monetary Changes.

    Ballots will be mailed out on or about March 10 and are tentatively scheduled to be counted on March 30.

    The tentative agreement is from September 1, 2015, until May 31, 2021.

  • The IBT-Airline Division has established this page as a place to get up-to-date information about the Republic Airways Holdings (RAH) bankruptcy.  Please check here for the latest information about the bankruptcy.

  • Workers’ pensions are being endangered by both Congress and those charged with overseeing them. The Teamsters and our members are standing united to say “No!” to cuts and “Yes!” to greater retirement security!

  • The Teamsters Union represents more than 250,000 members at UPS and UPS Freight. UPS remains an active member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) despite the organization’s anti-worker and anti-union agenda that seeks to undermine and weaken worker protections.

  • This web page provides information on our fight against fast-track legislation. The measure requires Congress to take only a quick up-or-down vote on secret trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and does not allow such agreements to be amended. It limits Congress’ constitutionally mandated oversight of such trade deals and lets others decide what’s best for America. The result is fewer good-paying U.S. jobs and unsafe food and products for Americans. Read more to find out why fast track is the wrong track for Teamsters and America.

  • Workers across the country at FedEx Freight and Con-way Freight are standing shoulder to shoulder to form their unions with the Teamsters to win a more secure future. Momentum is building with a first wave of victories with many more to come.

    There is growing worker resentment toward the companies after years of being treated unfairly. While the companies have suddenly made improvements since workers began to organize, workers know that without a legally binding contract the company can take these things away at any time.

    The unfulfilled promises that have been made to drivers and dockworkers over the past decade are coming back to haunt management.

    But now workers are taking action and standing up for themselves by forming their union. It's a different era now. It's Teamster Time! LIKE our Facebook page, here.

  • Teamsters are been standing together to protect good jobs at Sysco and US Foods. Our solidarity on many fronts helped to defeat the mega-merger of the two companies, which would have put thousands of jobs at risk. But challenges remain as both companies refine their plans. Join our campaign to ensure these foodservice giants honor their agreements with 11,500 Teamsters and help us bring more Sysco and US Foods workers into the Teamster family. LIKE our Facebook page, here.


Teamsters Local 355
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