EXCLUSIVE: Lewis Rothenberg has been elected president of the Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600, defeating longtime incumbent Steven Poster, who’d been president since 2006. Several other incumbents were also defeated. Christy Fiers was elected 1st national vice president, defeating incumbent Paul Varrieur; Stephen Wong was elected national secretary-treasurer, defeating incumbent Eddie Avila, and Jamie Silverstein was elected assistant national secretary treasurer, defeating incumbent Douglas C. Hart.
Rothenberg, a digital imaging technician on Avengers: Infinity War, The Girl on the Train and the 2016 Ghostbusters remake, had previously been the guild’s national vice president for two terms under Poster and had served on the national executive board for 13 year before stepping away from union politics three years ago. His three-year term as president of the 8,600-member union will begin on June 22.
“I think that the members accepted my campaign platform that it was time for change,” Rothenberg told Deadline. “I have a great deal of respect for President Poster, but I don’t believe anyone should be president of an organization for 13 years. I don’t believe we should have career politicians.”
His top priority as president, Rothenberg said, will be “to increase member involvement. We have a great deal of apathy in our union and in our country. I want to encourage them to get involved. That will be my primary goal.”
Rothenberg was elected on a platform of honest and civility. “I very much want to win this election, but it has to be on my terms,” he said in a campaign statement. “I pride myself in my ethics and morality. I will not run a ‘win at any expense’ campaign. I do strongly feel I am the best candidate to represent my sisters and brothers in this union that I very proudly belong to, but at the end of the day I have to wake up every morning and look myself in the mirror. My campaign will be based on my values, ethics, and goals. I will not engage in mud-slinging, or bashing our union.”
Rothenberg also bested Paul V. Ferrazzi, a third presidential candidate, who was a harsh critic of what he called Poster’s “autocratic rule.”
Rothenberg supported IATSE’s recently ratified film and TV contract, telling Deadline that “every contract has people who are disappointed by what we don’t get, but this was the first time we got gains without giving up anything. It got our foot in the door and is a good springboard for our next round of negotiations.”
Rothenberg, who currently lives on the East Coast, will have to relocate to Southern California to serve as president, as is proscribed by the guild’s constitution.
In other Local 600 races, Dejan Georgevich was elected national vice president; John Lindley was elected 2nd national vice president, and Deborah M. Lipman was elected national sergeant-at-arms. Elections were also held for Financial Trustees for the Guild’s three regions; for the National Executive Board, and for delegates to the IATSE International and District Conventions.
Vote totals have not yet been made public, and the guild noted that the election results are not final until any protests have been resolved by the Election Committee, and the Committee’s report has been reviewed and accepted by the National Executive Board at its June 22-23 meeting.
“On behalf of the Election Committee, I congratulate the winners and thank the members who voted in the 2019 Local 600 election,” said Peter Hawkins, co-chair of the Local 600 Election Committee. “We look forward to certifying the final results and welcoming the newly-elected officers, trustees and delegates in June.”
The Cinematographers Guild is the third IATSE Hollywood local to undergo leadership changes in the last six months. In December, Crystal Hopkins was elected president of IATSE Local 871, and her entire slate of running mates swept to victory, defeating a group of incumbents that had controlled the local for years. And Leslie Simon, Local 871’s business rep since 2013, didn’t receive a contract extension from the local’s new board of directors. The local represents script supervisors; production, script and art department coordinators; accountants; and writers’ assistants.
Leaders of IATSE Prop Local 44 were also shown the door recently. Ed Brown, the local’s longtime business agent, was defeated in his bid for reelection, and president Michael Diersing also lost his reelection race.
IATSE Art Directors Local 800 bucked the recent trend for change, however, when Chuck Parker was reelected national executive director last month. He and the guild’s associate national executive director, who goes by the name Dooner, were reelected at the guild’s bi-annual general membership meeting. They both ran unopposed after defeating entrenched incumbents three years ago.