As IATSE members prepare to vote this weekend on a proposed new film and TV contract, membership discontent is evident not only on social media but also is a playing out in the Editors Guild’s upcoming board elections. In their campaign statements, none of the guild’s 23 board candidates openly opposes the tentative agreement, but none flat out endorse it either.
Three years ago, the Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700, was the only local that voted against ratification of the 2018 contract – and by a huge majority. This time, however, the guild’s leadership is urging their members to ratify it, as are the leaders of IATSE and all the other 45 affected locals across the country.
“This last round of negotiations, we got most of what we wanted,” incumbent Maysie Hoy wrote in her candidate’s statement. “We can and we should do better. Looking toward the future, we must raise our voices to what is most important to us and get involved before the negotiations begin. We need to let the IA leadership know that we are serious about getting our fair share of the streaming residuals. It is no longer acceptable to call it ‘new media’ nor ‘experimental.’ I know we all worry whether there will be any pension left when we decide to retire and knowing that the pension and health plans are well funded will help us all sleep better. I vow to continue to work hard at keeping what we have fought so hard and gained in the past, yet not be complacent with what we have today. We must proceed with clear, realistic goals, always keeping in mind the long-term.”
In urging a “Yes” vote for ratification, IATSE says that “For the term of the agreement, ongoing hourly contribution increases resulting in $370 million in new money over the three years of the contract. This will keep our Plans funded, with no reduction of benefits or increases to qualifications or premiums.”
“I’m honored to be nominated to join the Board of Directors after such a tumultuous and eventful year in organized labor,” wrote editor Austin Scott in his candidate’s statement. “I joined the texting volunteers a few months ago to make sure guild members understood what was happening with our vitally important contract negotiations. Together we helped activate the largest IATSE membership voter turnout in history – and over 98% of the membership voted YES to authorize a strike in the biggest show of solidarity and strength in our 128-year history. We said it loud and clear: we deserve better, or we’ll walk. We now face a predicament much like 2018, with IATSE leadership recommending a ‘YES’ vote on this new contract offer they’re calling a win. Meanwhile there has been an overwhelming response from the membership: it’s not good enough. The DGA, WGA, and SAG all achieved significant increases in streaming residuals during their last negotiations, while we are still left wondering about the long-term sustainability of our pensions and health plans. While I understand these renegotiations are perpetual baby steps to the next best contract, and so on and so forth, and that’s how pattern bargaining works…below-the-line workers around the country are ready for a paradigm shift.”
“I recognize our membership is of different opinions,” incumbent A.J. Catoline said of ratification in his candidate’s statement. “I see and hear the many members who feel let down or left behind by the deal. And I see and hear our members who want our Local to be united, and support our fearless leadership, and who recognize that all negotiations are ultimately about our shared future. Regardless of our decision, I will always be a voice on the Board to represent and speak up for our true source of power and strength – our engaged membership. We all deserve our union to fight for our safe hours, reasonable rest and sustainable benefits. And we will stand strong, and we will win!”
In her statement, incumbent board member Amy E. Duddleston wrote: “So much has happened since the last time I was elected to the board – first, a global pandemic that caused most of us to work from home for going on 20 months now. Then, just a few weeks ago, a historic strike authorization vote to send a message to the AMPTP and our own IATSE leaders that our needs as below-the-line workers must be met in the new contract. The new contract didn’t deliver some of the things our membership hoped to get from the power of having a strike date announced. Some of these include sustainable benefits from streaming, a raise that is commensurate with inflation and the cost of living, and reasonable hours and rest so that we can do the work that we are trusted with, and do it well. While I write this, we haven’t voted on this contract yet, and many of us are still trying to decide whether we are YES or NO votes. One thing is for certain though, whether or not the contract passes, we need to stay in SOLIDARITY with our IATSE kin in the other locals, and work towards getting the needs of all below-the-line workers met.”
David Rogow, running for a board seat to represent the guild’s eastern region, was clearly frustrated with the proposed deal and how it was reached. “More than ever we need to engage with the friends and colleagues in the other craft locals so that our wants are taken seriously at contract time and not given up at the end,” he wrote in his candidate’s statement. “The producers stirred up a lot of pent up anger (IA Stories anyone?) by letting negotiations drag on without serious counteroffers. This of course led to strike authorization. In the last hours of IATSE’s deadline, the producers agreed to most of the asks (which couldn’t be changed during negotiations). Our big issue, funding of pension and health with residuals, was thrown under the bus that week. It never had enough support amongst the other locals. (Workplace issues became the priority.) There was never a real workup with financial projections (maybe three proposals with different projections) by IASTE. This has to change. No matter how the ratification vote goes, this must change. We can’t be sold out by the IA again.”
During the run-up to the union’s strike-authorization vote, which was approved by the members by nearly 99% – with over 90% of the eligible members casting ballots – an unofficial website called IATSE Stories posted hundreds of tales of mistreatment and poor working conditions under the old contract. That site, however, took a “pause” in posting new stories recently.
“It has been hard to be at the receiving end of so much difficult content and we had been working at a sprint pace for too long,” the site says. “We needed a little break and are working on recalibrating to a more sustainable system so that this work for continued education, solidarity and culture/system change can keep happening. We encourage all members to read the Memorandum of Agreement, get answers to all your questions and VOTE! But regardless of which way ratification goes our work continues.”
Ballots for the contract ratification vote will be counted November 15. Ballots for the Editors Guild’s board races will be counted December 8.