As 43,000 West Coast members of IATSE prepare to vote on a new-three year contract with producers (AMPTP), the voice of opposition, Local 700 executive director Cathy Repola takes to the streaming waves to continue her locals’ fight against what she described as “a totally, unnecessarily, unacceptable agreement.” Cinemontage, the Motion Picture Editors Guild’s publication, announced yesterday that Repola would broadcast a series of podcasts about “the big problem issues” with the unions’ new tentative agreement.
IATSE President Matthew Loeb has stated that if the members vote to not ratify the agreement, it would mean a strike that includes a vast majority of the crew working in TV and movies. It’s a strike that would certainly shut down production on the West Coast, but likely the East Coast as well, with Local 700 (Editors), Local 600 (Cinematographers) and Local 800 (Art Directors) being nationwide.
“We will launch one podcast per day each day of this week, covering the most important pieces of the tentative agreement,” said Repola. “I fully embrace these new means to communicate with the membership, in ways that will continue to serve us well into the future.”
Since mid-July, Repola has rallied her over-7,000 members to make a stand against the studios to fight for better benefit funding, new-media residuals, and better work hours with a longer rest period. When a tentative agreement passed July 26, Local 700 was the only one of 13 locals to oppose the deal and recommend its members vote against the contract.
While IATSE’s vote is done electoral college style — each local gets a set number of votes based on the size of its members and in which simple majority takes all — Repola’s message has been received well by members in the other 12 locals.
As IndieWire reported, Loeb and the leadership of the other 12 locals were caught off guard by the opposition to the deal and pushed back hard. Loeb and other leaders have questioned Repola’s motivations in a fight that has gotten personal.
For her part, Repola’s strength has come from patiently educating members through videos, emails and presentations that dig into details and show why she thinks the latest contract’s modest gains mask a larger and growing problem facing IATSE members as the industry continues to make a sharp turn toward streaming-only content like Netflix Originals. Presumedly, the podcast will be just another platform for Repola to make her case, and at time when IATSE members will start getting the new contract and paper ballot in the mail.
You can listen to the podcast here.