In what could be a precursor to placing IATSE Editors Guild Local 700 into trusteeship, IATSE president Matthew Loeb has fired off a blistering letter (read it here) accusing Local 700 executive director Cathy Repola of violating federal labor law, of waging a “propaganda campaign” against ratification of the union’s new film and TV contract, and of possibly breaching her duties as a director of the union’s pension and health plans. He also accused her of being “selfish, divisive and irresponsible.”
In years past, accusations like that have landed Sound Local 695 and Prop Local 44 in trusteeship.
Repola and the Editors Guild’s leadership have been leading the charge against ratification of the new pact. She’s called it “a totally unnecessary” and “unacceptable agreement.” The proposed contract, which will soon be put to a vote of the union’s 43,000 West Coast members, is supported by the leaders of all the other 12 Hollywood locals.
The escalating war of words between the two labor leaders comes after an attorney for the Editors Guild fired off a letter that accused Loeb of “a number of unprofessional and potentially illegal acts,” and of making comments to Replola that contained “sexist undertones” following Loeb’s rebuke of her at a recent meeting of the IATSE general executive board. The IA’s general counsel fired back, disputing the allegations and calling the accusations “hasty, ill-informed and inaccurate.”
Now Loeb has upped the ante, accusing Repola of taking a position against the new contract that is “antithetical to the principals of trade unionism.”
“Local 700 was the one of 13 IATSE present in the negotiations that had no elected officers or bargaining unit members present for the general negotiations,” Loeb wrote. “This raises a number of concerns. Most importantly, no working members of 700 had access to the actual facts, developments and proposals, which you have repeatedly skewed. Furthermore, you entered these negotiations 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.”
He also accused her of having “repeatedly complained — including at the recent General Executive Board meeting, in open session — about Local 700 member-owned companies paying their fair share of contributions to the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plans.”
Repola has said the new deal will hurt many of her members who own small independent post-production houses.
“Our side agreed, with strong opposition from me,” she told her members, “that all signatories of the agreement (excepting the major studios and any other companies they designate) will be subject to a $0.75 per hour contribution increase to the health plan each year of the agreement and resulting in a $2.25 per contribution hour increase by the third year. This will have a detrimental impact on our members who work at and own independent post facilities – sound houses, trailer editing, music editing, digital companies, and employee shareholders – because escalating their overhead costs will likely result in decreased employment. This will also make organizing non-union companies more difficult. This allows the studios to put a burden on smaller companies while avoiding any substantial contributions to the plans themselves.”
Loeb, however, told her that “The additional $0.75 per hour in each year of the new agreement from companies that do not meet the residual threshold of $15 million will shore up funding of the plans, securing a dignified retirement for our members.”
“Your public complaints to such a provision,” he added, “are antithetical to the principals of trade unionism. I urge you to consider who you are supporting — employers or members. Not only is your position a conflict of interest, it is likely a breach of your duties as a director of the MPIPHP.”
“Your ongoing propaganda campaign,” he scolded, “is born of motivations beyond the interests of the membership. An activity which is selfish, divisive and irresponsible.”
Loeb and Repola haven’t always been at odds. At last year’s IATSE convention in Hollywood, FL, he presented her with the union’s “Outstanding Woman Leader Award” in recognition of her work as chairwoman of the IATSE’s Women’s Committee.