BREAKING NEWS: The latest is that Motion Picture Editors IATSE Local 700 just announced that its membership “overwhelmingly voted to ratify the 2009-2012 Basic Agreement. 75% voted for ratification, and 25% against ratification.” (MORE)

IATSE Local 695 representing Sound Technicians, Video Engineers, Television Broadcast Engineers and Studio Projectionists involved in motion picture and television production also wound up with a nailbiter with 276 ballots for ratification, and 244 against ratification. The number of total ballots mailed was 1,646, and total ballots received was 586. The total qualified ballots were put at 522 (with 64 ruled ineligible).

Earlier today, the vote results from the International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600, were announced. And the contest was a real squeaker with 1,229 ballots for ratification, 904 against ratification, with 2 ballots left blank.

The official results on behalf of all Hollywood Locals will be announced on March 20.”

ICG had been a hotbed of union discontent over the proposed IATSE-AMPTP contract. But it’s interesting to note that those ballots not counted by Local 600 would have made it even closer. But 9 ballots were challenged/voided, another 2 rejected for no identification, and 252 ruled ineligible by the union. Interestingly, IATSE Hollywood Locals rank-and-file used to be able to change their vote with a replacement ballot. But in this election, the union was breaking with precedent and counting only the first ballot received.

In all, 5,589 ballots were mailed to Local 600 members on February 21st, and an additional 44 ballots were mailed at the request of the union. In order for the votes to be valid and counted, the franked return envelopes had to be received by midnight, March 18th.

IATSE leaders have been sweating out these votes and even lobbying in the DHD comments section to plead the Vote Yes case and debate with members who joined the Vote No campaign. ICG President Steven Poster even ordered a phone bank set up to call members and get them to Vote Yes, raising questions about what Guild resources were used and/or abused.

But January and February saw a lot of pushback from all the various IATSE Hollywood guild members and even board members angry over the IATSE/AMPTP tentative contract. I first disclosed the terms of the negotiated pact over Thanksgiving weekend even before union leaders had bothered providing details to members. The most controversial rollback is that, effective 07/31/2011, the Health Plan will change the standards for continuing eligibility from 300 qualifying hours to 400 qualifying hours over a 6-month period. Even the union reps admitted this will cause 7% to 15% of the various Guild members to lose their insurance.

It’s little wonder then that the individual guilds that make up IATSE had trouble spinning this to members. Several “No 400 Hours” websites started up like http://www.400hours.com/ and two on FaceBook here and here. And suddenly circulating among the membership were emails opposing the contract, like this one: “IATSE Members from many of the locals are banning together for the first time, as a collective, to fight the proposed AMPTP contract. Our mission is to reach out to as many of the 35,000 members under the Hollywood basic agreement and let them know what this contract means. The increase of 400 hours will cause over 3,500 members to lose their health insurance. The ‘New Media provision is the other main reason for a “NO!” vote. The terms weaken our Union’s Basic Agreement and open the door to major losses in every Local of hourly rates and working conditions. Remember, what you give away today, you are not likely to get back ever…. We want our members to VOTE NO! We are GROWING and we are MAD!”

Informational meetings held by the IATSE Guild leadership grew increasingly angry and nasty. To answer the disappointed and disgruntled members’ outcry, the Guild leaders began using their websites to post “Vote Yes” testimonials, like this one from the International Cinematographers Guild IATSE Local 600’s national executive board member John Toll: “400 hours? Lets face it. It sucks, but what are our options? Voting ‘no’? Even if all IATSE locals voted against ratification, then what?”

And there were fireworks inside the ICG meetings on the tentative deal’s rollbacks. At the Special National Executive Board meeting held January 11th, the NEB voted to recommend that members cast ballots to ratify the new contract. But 39 voted “for”, and 18 voted “against”, with 1 abstention. As one angry member emailed me. “I can only hope individual Local 600 members show more courage and backbone than their elected representatives showed that day.”

Judging from today’s close vote, they did.

  1. IATSE Hollywood Leaders Sweat, Part 3
  2. IATSE Hollywood Leaders Sweat, Part 2
  3. IATSE Hollywood Leaders Sweat It Out
  4. This Email Is Making The IATSE Rounds
  5. Ballots Going Into IATSE Members Hands
  6. Smoke & Mirrors For IATSE & AMPTP, Too
  7. Remember IATSE/AMPTP Tentative Pact? There Looks Like Lotsa Trouble Ahead…
  8. IATSE/AMPTP: Controversial Health Plan Eligibility Rollback Causing Complaints
  9. Details Of AMPTP-IATSE Tentative Deal