EXCLUSIVE: IATSE international president Matt Loeb has unceremoniously booted Cathy Repola off the board of directors of the union’s pension and health plans after she tangled with him over the ratification of the union’s new film and TV contract. Repola, the national executive director of the Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700, claims her removal appears to be in retaliation for her leading the opposition to the contract.
“You are being removed as a director of the Motion Picture Health, Pension and Individual Account Plans, effective today,” Loeb said in a letter sent to her on Friday (read it here). “Thank you for your service to the Plans.”
In response, Repola and Editors Guild president Alan Heim told Loeb that “it is hard to avoid the troubling conclusion that Cathy’s removal is anything other than a retaliatory act for our opposition to the terms of the 2018 IATSE Basic Agreement. We reiterate our right, as the leadership of Local 700, and on behalf of our entire officers and board of directors, to freely represent the membership of our local, and we should be allowed to do so without attempts to undermine that right. We request that the decision to remove Cathy from the MPI board be reconsidered.”
“By removing her,” they told Loeb, “you have taken away the voice of Local 700, eliminating not only its representation on the MPI board, but also eliminating her access to all of the information that flows through the board that impacts members of Local 700. Since her appointment July 1, 2018, Cathy has done everything necessary to carry out her fiduciary responsibilities.”
Her removal is just the latest in an ongoing feud between Repola and Loeb that saw the Editors Guild standing alone in opposition to the new contract, which was ratified earlier this month. Repola and the other leaders of the guild said they opposed the new contract, in part, because it did not go far enough to protect the pension and health benefits of their members.
During the lengthy and bitter ratification process, Loeb accused Repola of waging a “propaganda campaign” against the pact, and he blew his top at her during an August 6 IATSE executive board meeting. Attorneys for the guild said his rant contained “sexist undertones,” and they accused him of having “ridiculed and threatened” her at the meeting. They also claimed he made comments that “violate the law” by infringing “upon her freedom of speech.”
Loeb, meanwhile, accused her of having “violated federal labor law” by even taking part in the union’s recent negotiations for a new film and TV contract because she was an appointed, instead of an elected, union officer. “You entered these negotiations,” Loeb told her in a letter obtained by Deadline, “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 scoffed at that notion, telling Loeb 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.” Loeb, who headed up the negotiations, didn’t have an issue with the appointed leaders of two other locals taking part in the contract talks.
“I grew up in an IATSE household and have been a devoted union member for over 35 years,” Repola said in a recent 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.”