UPDATED with statement from Editor Guild executive: IATSE president Matt Loeb has sternly rebuked Editors Guild leaders Cathy Repola and Alan Heim, telling them that their claim that she was removed as a director of the union’s pension and health plans in retaliation for her opposition to IATSE’s new film and TV contract not only is inaccurate but “irresponsible.”
The real reason she was removed as a trustee of the Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans, Loeb told them, was because of her “repeated and public objections to increasing the contributions paid by non-residual producing employers” – many of whom are members of the Editors Guild Local 700.
Loeb has said that the new agreement will pump an additional $153 million in employer contributions into the union’s health plan, but Local 700’s leadership – including national executive director Repola and president Heim – unanimously opposed the new contract, arguing that it will shift the burden of those additional employer contributions “away from the major studios” and onto the backs of their own members who operate independent post-production houses.
Loeb, however, in an email sent today to Repola and Heim, said that “her comments not only demonstrate a stunning lack of understanding about whose interests are represented by the directors to the Plans’ participants – they are also contrary to the duties of trustees to benefit plans. Her remarks are antithetical to securing the funding status and retirement security of participants in the Plans. Such fiduciarily irresponsible behavior cannot be tolerated. It would be imprudent for her to continue as a director to the Plans, thus, Sister Repola was removed.”
Responding to Loeb’s letter, Scott George, the Editors Guild’s western executive director, told Deadline that no matter what Loeb says, “This was an obvious act of retaliation for our local’s opposition of the 2018 Basic Agreement.” The guild, he said, “continues to strongly oppose Cathy’s removal as director from MPIPHP. There is nothing in his response that should change anybody’s opinion.”
As Deadline reported Monday, Repola and Heim also told Loeb that by removing her as a director of the Plans, “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.”
Loeb, however, told Repola and Heim that that is also inaccurate. “Let me be perfectly clear,” he told them. “The Trust documents for the Plans do not allow for, or require that there be, a representative from each local covered by the Plans. No local has a right – by position or status – to a seat on the Plans’ board of directors. Moreover, the members of the Motion Picture Editors Guild Local 700 have not had ‘their representation on the MPI board’ eliminated as you claim. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am well aware of the importance of safeguarding the retirement security of the funds, including ensuring that employers contribute to the Plans. In addition, I and the other directors represent all the Plans’ participants, including the dedicated and hard-working members of Local 700.
“The IATSE directors of the Plans,” he wrote, “will continue to put the participants’ health and retirement security first. Our focus has always been on protecting the needs of participants rather than those of the employers.” And with that, Loeb declared that “this matter is deemed closed.”
Loeb and the Editors Guild’s leaders had been at loggerheads throughout the contentious process of ratifying the new contract, with each side accusing the other of violating federal law. In the end, however, the pact received a majority of yes votes from 12 of IATSE’s 13 West Coast studio locals, with only the Editors Guild voting no.