EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that longtime IATSE president Tom Short may be leaving his position with an announcement coming as soon as this week. The union won’t confirm or deny, but below-the-liners are telling me they got word from their Union BAs starting last Friday that this was happening. Short is right now in San Diego at the Midsummer General Executive Board meeting which began yesterday and continues through Friday. In an unusual move, he began preliminary talks with Big Media’s negotiating clique AMPTP this summer, more than a year before the contract expired on July 31st, 2009. But I’m told those talks are now “suspended until further notice” when they didn’t reach a resolution. The IATSE is the labor union representing technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theatre, motion picture and television production, and trade shows.
Short has been alternately praised and criticized for his relationships with Hollywood CEOs. Either he’s lambasted for being too in their pocket, or he’s lauded for being able to successfully work with them. Before, during and after the writers strike, Short took up the AMPTP’s cause and blamed the WGA for the repeated breakdown in contract talks even though the moguls reps walked away from the negotiations. (For background on the terrible relations between the WGA and IATSE, see my previous, Bitchslapping Between IATSE & WGA.) Certainly, Short’s membership is hurting from the current stalement in negotiations between SAG and the AMPTP. Yet he’s remained quiet.
Short has been a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories, and Canada, AFL-CIO, CLC since January 9, 1968 when he was initiated into Stagehands Local No. 27, Cleveland, Ohio. In August 1988, Short was elected to the position of Eleventh International Vice President, moved up in 1993 to General Secretary-Treasurer, and in 1994 to International President when the late President Alfred W. Di Tolla resigned. Short was re-elected, unopposed, to his fourth term in July 2005.
Under Short’s administration, the union has been restructured to include five divisions – Stage Craft, Motion Picture and Television Production, Organizing, Trade Show & Display Work, and Canadian Affairs – and increased membership from 65,000 to nearly 110,000, with over 1500 national term agreements with industry employers. He was recently elected to serve as a VP on the Executive Council of the AFL- CIO – the first time in 31 years that the IATSE has held a seat on the panel.