EXCLUSIVE: IATSE Sound Local 695, which was placed into trusteeship in February by IATSE International president Matt Loeb, could be coming out of trusteeship as early as January. Ballots have been sent to the local’s 1,040 members asking them to ratify a new constitution and bylaws. If approved, elections will be held for new officers and the trusteeship lifted.

Image (5) Jim-Osburn__140516231242.jpg for post 731930The local was placed into indefinite trusteeship after its longtime business agent, Jim Osburn, ran afoul of leaders of a powerful IATSE local in Louisiana, whom Osburn accused of attempting to “shake down” one of his members. A union hearing sided with the Louisiana local, and Loeb threw out all of the Sound local’s elected officers and board members, suspended its constitution, and placed it into trusteeship. Loeb told the local’s members that “the evidence presented at this hearing makes it clear that the principal officers of Local 695 are committed to a course of reckless action,” and that “the record is replete with instance after instance of Local 695 and its officers’ willful disregard for, and mockery of, the International constitution.”

The main change in the local’s proposed new constitution would give Loeb authority to have the last word on the meaning of the local’s constitution; to say that it means what he says it means. It’s not a big change because he already has that authority implicitly, but it codifies who’s really the boss over the affairs of the local, which has been a thorn in the side of IATSE presidents for decades and had been put into trusteeship twice before, in 1976 and 1998.

During trusteeship, the local has been ruled by IATSE International VP Mike Miller and International reps Steve Aredas and Peter Marley. But the local’s day-to-day affairs have been run by interim business agent Scott Bernard, who is considered the favorite to become the next leader when trusteeship is lifted.