EXCLUSIVE: Cathy Repola, the national executive director of the Editors Guild, has fired back at IATSE president Matt Loeb, who earlier today accused her of having “violated federal labor law” by taking part in the union’s recent negotiations for a new film and TV contract.

“I grew up in an IATSE household and have been a devoted union member for over 35 years,” Repola said in a statement to Deadline. “In spite of what the IATSE leadership is indicating, it is my core belief that speaking up on behalf of issues that adversely affect the Local 700 membership is not only a right, but my primary responsibility as the national executive director.”

Her response is the latest in an escalating war of words between Loeb and the Editors Guild. Earlier this evening, Editors Guild president Alan Heim accused Loeb of making “morally and legally baseless” allegations against Repola when he accused her of having “violated federal labor law” by taking part in the recent negotiations for a new film and TV contract. The Editors Guild is the only one of 13 West Coast studio locals opposed to ratification of the pact.

“You entered these negotiations,” Loeb said earlier today in his letter to Repola, “acting with authority reserved only for democratically elected union officials under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act and in so doing violated federal labor law.”

Heim
Courtesy of the Editors Guild

Heim scoffed at that notion in his response to Loeb, saying that he and the local’s executive board “are dismayed that rather than addressing the legitimate issues raised by Cathy regarding the recently negotiated tentative basic agreement, you have chosen to attack her personally. The allegations in your letter are morally and legally baseless and only serve to distract attention from the serious problems in the proposed agreement.

“You suggest that Cathy was acting with authority reserved only for democratically elected union officials. Cathy was the bargaining representative at the table on behalf of Local 700 in these negotiations and, in fact, not until she recommended that our membership reject the new contract did you raise your concern. In addition, over the last three negotiating cycles under your presidency, you never raised any concerns about the fact that her predecessor functioned in the same capacity. As you know, Cathy was acting at all times at the direction of and with the full support of Local 700’s elected leadership.” (Read Heim’s letter in full below.)

Repola, like many other Hollywood labor leaders, was named to her post by the local’s board. That’s true of the national executive director of Cinematographers Guild Local 600, and the business rep of Script Supervisors Local 871, as well, and they also served on their locals’ negotiating committees during the recent contract talks. Loeb, however, isn’t accusing them of violating federal labor law.

And as far as being “democratically elected,” Loeb himself never has faced an opponent for the union’s international presidency. He was unanimously elected by the IATSE general executive board in 2008 to succeed Tommy Short and was re-elected in 2009, 2013 and 2017 by acclimation, without ever having faced an opponent.

Deadline has reviewed the LMRDA and nowhere does it say that board-appointed labor leaders cannot negotiate collective bargaining agreements. If it were true, the executive directors of the DGA, WGA and SAG-AFTRA would also be guilty of the same crime because they too aren’t elected by their members, and yet they are the chief negotiators for many of their major contracts.

Loeb, who served as the chief negotiator for the negotiations, went into the recent negotiations knowing full well that Repola was not a “democratically elected union official” when she came to the bargaining table, but only now is saying that in so doing, she “violated federal labor law.”

Loeb also accused Repola of waging a “propaganda campaign” against ratification of the union’s new contract, which he alleged “is born of motivations beyond the interests of the membership. An activity which is selfish, divisive and irresponsible.”

Heim, however, called that “a disrespectful affront to the members of Local 700,” saying that “Cathy’s brave stance on the contract has received overwhelming support and positive reaction from our membership, as well as from members of other locals.”

“It is a sad day for IATSE,” he concluded, “when its leadership calls defending our rights and voicing our opinions a divisive act.”

Here is Heim’s full letter to Loeb:

Matthew D. Loeb
International President
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees

Dear Brother Loeb:

As the elected President of IATSE Local 700, I am responding to your letter dated August 16, 2018 to Sister Cathy Repola, our National Executive Director. The Executive Board and I are dismayed that rather than addressing the legitimate issues raised by Cathy regarding the recently negotiated tentative Basic Agreement, you have chosen to attack her personally . The allegations in your letter are morally and legally baseless and only serve to distract attention from the serious problems in the proposed agreement.

You suggest that Cathy was acting with authority reserved only for democratically elected union officials. Cathy was the bargaining representative at the table on behalf of Local 700 in these negotiations and, in fact, not until she recommended that our membership reject the new contract did you raise your concern. In addition, over the last three negotiating cycles under your presidency, you never raised any concerns about the fact that her predecessor functioned in the same capacity. As you know, Cathy was acting at all times at the direction of and with the full support of Local 700’s elected leadership.

The bargaining positions she articulated were and are in the best interest of our membership. Indeed among the reasons we are recommending a “no” vote is because the additional $0.75 per hour will likely result in hurting employment opportunities for the membership. Additionally, one of Cathy’s and the Board’s primary concerns is that not enough was done in the negotiations to shore up funding for the MPIPHP on a long-term basis.

Cathy’s brave stance on the contract has received overwhelming support and positive reaction from our membership, as well as from members of other Locals. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in constructive dialogue, you have chosen to make this a personal battle. Local 700 will not allow such unfounded criticism to divert our attention from the job ahead of us – to do what is in the best interest of the members.  Your accusation that this is a “propaganda campaign” is a disrespectful affront to the members of Local 700.

It is a sad day for IATSE when its leadership calls defending our rights and voicing our opinions a divisive act.

Sincerely,

Alan Heim
ACE President, Local 700