With IATSE members set to vote this weekend for or against ratification of a new Basic Agreement, the outcome could well be determined by the union’s three largest Hollywood locals: Cinematographers Guild Local 600, Editors Guild Local 700 and Prop Local 44. Together, they have enough electoral votes to decide the outcome one way or the other, no matter how the other 10 Hollywood locals vote. If a majority of all three of those locals’ members votes Yes, the contract wpuld be ratified, and if a majority of all three locals votes No, it would be rejected.
Under IATSE’s electoral college-style voting system, each of the 13 Hollywood locals covered by the contract is allotted as many winner-take-all electoral votes as the number of delegates they had at the union’s last convention, based on the size of their memberships. Three years ago, when the current contract was put up for ratification, the 13 locals cast 385 votes, with 193 needed to either ratify or reject the contract. The final vote was 312 votes in favor to 73 against, with the Editors Guild, whose leaders opposed the contract, casting all 73 No votes.
IATSE held another convention earlier this year, so the electoral votes allotted to each of the 13 locals might change a little, but not much, depending on whether they gained or lost members relative to one another since the previous convention in 2017. Annual financial reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor show that the Cinematographers Guild, the Editors Guild and the Prop Local remain the union’s largest locals covered by the contract.
Based on the electoral votes from three years ago, the Cinematographers Guild had 76 votes, the Editors Guild had had 73 votes, and the Prop Local had 56 votes for a total of 205 electoral votes, which was more than the 193 votes needed for ratification last time.
This year, unlike three years ago, the leaders of all 13 locals, including the Editors Guild, are recommending a Yes vote on the contract. But if Editors Guild members break ranks again and vote No, and the Cinematographers Guild and the Prop Local vote Yes, they’ll need at least three more mid-sized locals to join them with Yes votes if the contract is to be ratified.
If the Editors Guild votes No, as it did last time, and the Cinematographers Guild and the Prop Local vote Yes, it would take a majority of No votes from at least five mid-sized locals to defeat the contract. The next five largest locals – Grips Local 80, Studio Electrical Lighting Technicians Local 728, Art Directors Guild Local 800, Script Supervisors Local 871 and Sound Local 695 – have enough electoral votes, if combined with a No vote from the Editors Guild’s – to shoot down the tentative agreement.
But if the Cinematographers Guild and the Prop Local both vote Yes, the contract would be ratified if any three of the mid-sized locals approve it, even if the Editors Guild doesn’t.
Turnout almost certainly will determine the outcome. Three years ago, only three of the 13 locals exceeded a 40% voter turnout rate. Turnout is expected to be much higher this year, however, after 90% of the 60,000 eligible members voted in the strike authorization vote last month, and nearly 99% of them voted to authorize a strike.
Here are the locals’ electoral votes from three years ago, showing the clout that the largest locals had in determining the outcome. (The electoral votes for Make-Up & Hair Stylists Guild Local 706, which didn’t publicly reveal its vote, are estimated based on the size of its membership as reported to the Labor Department.)
Local 600: 76 votes
Local 700: 73 votes
Local 44: 56 votes
Local 80: 33 votes
Local 728: 26 votes
Local 800: 23 votes
Local 871: 21 votes
Local 706: 20 votes
Local 695: 19 votes
Local 705: 17 votes
Local 892: 10 votes
Local 729: 9 votes
Local 884: 2 votes