By A.J. Catoline
The Editors Guild Board of Directors has voted to reduce union dues for all members as the industry confronts unprecedented work disruptions during the covid-19 pandemic.
The move came during the scheduled board meeting on Saturday, which due to the crisis was held entirely on a teleconferencing platform, for the first time in Guild history.
The board voted unanimously to cut dues by 50 percent for the second quarter of 2020.
“We are indeed facing an unprecedented crisis, certainly unlike anything our union has ever had to endure,” President Alan Heim and National Executive Director Cathy Repola wrote in a joint statement emailed to the Guild’s 8,300 members. The motion to trim dues also included waiving the $7 processing fee for paying by credit card.
Many Guild members were thrown out of work as the crisis started, although some have transitioned to work at home or have been kept on the payroll temporarily until a clearer picture emerges of the road back to work.
“We also recognize many of you lost work and, therefore, your incomes,” Heim and Repola wrote. “As challenging as it has been, we are keenly aware this could get worse for many of our members before it gets better.”
“Those of you still reporting to work sites, the employer must ensure your safety,” they added.
It was the first entirely virtual meeting of the Board in Guild history. Normally meetings are held in the Ronald Kutak Board Room at the Los Angeles office, and directors from the New York office and on distant location join via video conference.
For this meeting, 48 Board members and staff members attended from the safety of their homes via Zoom conference.
The Board plans to hold future virtual meetings as long as the social distancing virus-related mandates stay in place. They will continue on a regular basis to evaluate the need for relief of union dues for future billing cycles.
Like most unions, the Guild relies on member dues to support the work of collective bargaining and contract enforcement. Member dues specifically support the office staff and field representatives in Los Angeles and New York.
Several other locals of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) have also waived member dues for the current quarter. IATSE reported in a recent statement that “90-95% of our members are not working as a result of the covid-19 related social distancing measures.”
Directors began Saturday’s meeting reviewing the status of the Guild’s investment account, which was set aside years ago as a safety net. These investments have been conservative, which should help the funds endure the recent market gyrations related to the pandemic..
Repola and Heim said that the Guild will closely monitor the financial impact the pandemic is having on members and on Guild resources. “We are prepared to make non-essential cost-cutting measures in spending and weigh utilizing some of our reserves if necessary,” they said in the statement.
After the meeting, Heim praised the Board and Guild leadership, noting a long history of mutual trust, professionalism, and member outreach that enables the community to come together amid crisis.