Cathy Repola: To Prepare for 2021 Basic Agreement Talks, MPEG Members Need to Stay United and Strong

Cathy Repola addresses the crowd at the 2020 ACE Eddie Awards. Photo by Deverill Weekes.

by Cathy Repola

It is never too soon for us to start looking forward and preparing for the next IATSE Basic Agreement negotiations.

The above-the-line Guilds — as has been reported by various media outlets — are anticipating potentially difficult negotiations. They are strategizing over the biggest challenge that will be facing all of us: How to negotiate adequate new residuals from streaming distribution to offset the decline of residuals from traditional markets. How all of this will play out one cannot be predicted at this time. But a sea change is on the horizon.

You will recall that in our 2018 Basic Agreement negotiations, we proposed new residuals into the Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans that would come from the reuse of high budget SVOD programs in foreign markets. Not only did we end up withdrawing that proposal, but we concluded the negotiations without achieving any new residuals at all. So, this next time around, we cannot do the same thing. The MPI Plans need long-term stability, and participants must be able to trust that their leadership has fought to take care of them long-term.

We will continue educating our membership about the funding mechanisms of the Plans, how they work, and the importance of achieving adequate new residuals income. As we did during the negotiations and ratification process, we will build upon the resources we provided through our on-going podcast series, through Power Point presentations and other aids, including email blasts and articles such as this.

When we took a stand in 2018 against the new Basic Agreement, we were met with much opposition and retaliation. We were the target of false and baseless accusations. We were willing to speak the truth about why we felt the contract was inadequate. It is our unfettered right to dissent, and it is unconscionable to have negative action taken against us for having done so.

Our membership doesn’t need to be reminded of all that was at stake last time and why we voted against ratification of that agreement. This next time, we want to be successful at meeting the goals most important to the livelihoods of our members. That is the essence of the work of a union. We must have strength, the courage, and perseverance to take us all the way to success.

Every January, we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. His legacy reminds me of the courage it takes to effectuate change. There are, among other things, three of his quotes I carry near and dear to me, and they acted as my mantras during 2018. There were and still are hundreds and hundreds of people (aside from the Local 700 membership) within the IA and outside of the IA who expressed their private admiration and support for what we did and the all-too-common theme was: “ I wish we/I had the courage to do what you/Local 700 did.” They expressed disdain for how we were treated by the IA President. So, I leave you with all three of these King quotes so they may perhaps motivate others.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent.”


Cathy Repola is the National Executive Director of the Motion Picture Editors Guild.