by A.J. Catoline
The annual election ballot for Local 700 is the longest in the history of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, with a record 87 members running for Delegate to the Quadrennial Convention of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
And dozens of members are running for seats to the Local 700 Board of Directors representing classifications of Picture Editor and Assistant Editor, as well as Music Editor, Sound Editor, and Eastern Region representing members in New York. Results will be announced December 10.
Most notable is the number of members who have tossed their hat in the ring to run for delegate. Every four years, the parent union of the Editors Guild holds a convention of all 375 Locals of the IATSE across the United States and Canada. The convention is the governing body of the union that ratifies amendments to the bylaws and elects the International President and multiple Vice Presidents. Each local elects delegates to represent their members based proportionally on size.
In past conventions, Local 700 has sent about a dozen delegates. For the next convention in 2021, based on growing membership of approximately 8300 members, the Editors Guild could send many more delegates.
National Executive Director Cathy Repola suggested this is because members are highly engaged.
“It is apparent that the increased involvement and activism of our membership over the last couple of years continues to motivate them,” Repola said. “The last time we held delegate elections we had a total of 17 people running. To see this level of interest in the inner workings of the IATSE is really remarkable.”
There is no doubt the experiences of the last Basic Agreement negotiations had an impact on this.
In those negotiations in 2018, the Editors Guild was the sole unit among the 13 craft locals in the West Coast film and television bargaining group to oppose ratification of the Basic Agreement. The Board of Directors voted to recommend to members to vote against ratification, saying that the contract would inadequately fund the union Health and Pension plans.
Now, Editors Guild members are standing for election for delegate to be a representative voice for their local and to have a vote in electing the IATSE President. Delegates will be ranked based on the number of votes they receive and the Board of Directors will choose how many to send to the convention. Members vote by mail-in ballot which must be received by 9 a.m. on December 10. If active members have not received a ballot they are advised to contact the Guild office to request a replacement by tomorrow (December 3). Members can find more information at https://www.editorsguild.com/vote.
The last IATSE Quadrennial Convention was held in Hollywood, Florida on July 17, 2017.
Each year geographical District Conventions are held. Local 700 is part of is District 2, which represents IATSE Locals in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. District 2 held a virtual convention over Zoom on October 24. In 2019, the District 2 Convention was held in Honolulu, Hawaii and was an opportunity for “solidarity on the shore,” where Local 700 members interacted with other delegates to discuss common issues that face the labor movement.
The plans are chiefly funded by hourly employee contributions, investment dividends and residual income from motion pictures. Funding of the plans has been of concern among members.
The annual report of the MPI released in 2019 disclosed that the pension funding percentage has ticked down to 66.8% — a drop of more than half a percentage point from the prior year.
Repola has consistently reported to members that “we need to continue to stay diligently focused” on the plan funding and to “secure additional funding from the producers to bolster revenue streams.”