In a major upset, Chuck Parker has been elected executive director of the Art Directors Guild, beating longtime incumbent Scott Roth in a special election ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Roth’s resounding defeat marks the first time in 18 years that the guild will be under new leadership. The final vote tally was wasn’t even close, with Parker winning 547 to 322.

Chuck Parker
Courtesy of Chuck Parker

Parker, a veteran production designer whose credits include Monk and Under the Dome, campaigned on turning the guild over to the members. Roth is an attorney who never worked under the guild’s many contracts he helped negotiate.

“Eighteen years is enough,” Parker said in a campaign statement. “We need a change in leadership style and all the fear-mongering in the world won’t change that. What we’re missing is a clear vision and an individual who wants to move this union into the 21st Century and keep our members competitive in what is now a global market.”

Roth’s second in command, associate executive director Bill Thomas, also went down to defeat, losing to the guild’s organizer, who goes by the name dooner. An assistant art director whose credits include Vanished and Big Love, dooner defeated Thomas by just seven votes, 315-308. A third candidate, Chris Brandt – a storyboard artist on St. Vincent – received 228 votes.

Several opponents of the old regime also won seats on the guild’s board of directors, including former guild president Mimi Gramatky and Jack G. Taylor Jr., who first brought the election issue to the DOL.

The DOL-mandated special election was an historic first for a Hollywood union. Like the top executives of the industry’s other major unions, Roth had been hired by his guild’s board of directors and served at its pleasure continuously since 1997. The DOL, however, determined that Roth was “officer” of the IATSE local and not an “employee” as defined by the Labor/Management Reporting & Disclosure Act, and therefore must stand for election by the union’s members every three years.

One of the major problems the DOL found was that neither the top executives nor the members of the board of directors were elected directly by the guild’s membership.

One of the new administration’s first orders of business will be to write a new constitution to correct those problems.