by Cathy Repola
In June of this year, the Editors Guild’s former National Executive Director Ron Kutak resigned from the Board of Directors of the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans (MPIPHP) after serving for over 30 years. He poured his heart and soul into fighting for the protection of the health and pension plans. Even when he was the lone voice on a position, he advocated for what he believed was right for members of the IATSE. That didn’t always make him popular, but it commanded respect and value.
He spent countless hours analyzing the finances and financial structure. Applying his forward-thinking sensibilities, he always projected ahead, always advocating against a band-aid approach to problematic patterns. He educated many directors on the labor side of the table about how the financial structure works, recognizing that the more the directors knew, the better situated the IA was to fight for and to represent the interests of all of the IA members who are participants in the Plans. The absence of his insight and knowledge will leave an undeniable void.
I am so grateful to our Board of Directors for honoring his legacy with a dedication and naming of our board room in early June as the Ronald G. Kutak Board Room. It will solidify his invaluable contributions for decades to come. It’s also a well-deserved tribute to a man who has done so much for this union and will be a constant reminder for future generations (see page 20).
With Ron’s departure, I stepped into his vacated MPIPHP Director seat as of July 1. I admittedly have a lot to learn about the inner workings of the Plans, having been an outsider looking in for these many years. But nothing really prepares you for being an insider until the day you are! I can only promise that I will do everything within my power to be the best at it. I will rely heavily on Ron’s experience, advice and knowledge. A large part of what has made the transition from his leadership of Local 700 to mine so seamless is our reliance upon and trust in each other, as well as our mutual unwavering priority of placing the membership before ourselves.
The change in the directorship comes at a perfect time. We are already starting informal discussions among the IA Locals in Hollywood and the IA about next year’s Basic Agreement negotiations. Those of you who have been Editors Guild members for a while know that, oftentimes, the bulk of these negotiations center around the funding associated with the MPIPHP. It is likely that again the financing will need to be addressed. We will have a better sense of exactly what that looks like after the first of the year, when all the year-end reporting is completed.
In addition to finances surrounding the plans, our Board of Directors has had several discussions about what our local’s priorities need to be. We will continue to monitor the work situations affecting all of our classifications. Those conversations keep circling back to a common theme when it comes to picture editorial. There are too many expectations and too much volume of work being placed on the picture editorial crews, especially in episodic television. The amount of dailies has in some cases tripled since digital cameras became the norm. In addition, more is being expected of assistant editors, and increasingly more sound and music editing work is being expected of the picture crews — a situation that is eroding the jobs of our sound and music editors. We can embrace the technology that is driving some of this, but at the same time we must look for effective ways to address the impact of these conditions.
The change in the directorship comes at a perfect time. We are already starting informal discussions among the IA Locals in Hollywood and the IA about next year’s Basic Agreement negotiations.
There will be more to come on all of the above as we move closer to the negotiations.
Meanwhile, our Board and staff are continuously working toward more educational tools for the members. We have so many different contracts, which makes trying to understand what you are entitled to on a specific project a daunting task. Please utilize the tools available to you and, as always, continue to contact your Field Representatives when you have questions. Speaking of which, we recently added an additional and long-needed Field Rep (see page 16) to the Los Angeles staff.
I can’t end this without reminding all that you are the union. I spend a large part of my time looking for ways to help our members feel more empowered so we can effectuate some of the changes that many of you feel we desperately need. It can start with each of you. It might feel a little scary or uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
If you have ideas about how you, the union, and we, the staff, can better work together toward our common goals, please reach out to the staff members and/or your Board representatives.