Popular Vote Shows New IATSE Contract Is Not So Popular


EXCLUSIVE: Ratification of IATSE’s new film and TV contract was approved last week in a landslide under the union’s electoral college-style voting system, but it was a real squeaker in terms of the popular vote – the closest in the union’s history. And while the popular vote carries no weight under the union’s rules, the closeness of the vote might offer some consolation to opponents of the pact, while serving notice to management’s AMPTP that the unpopularity of the pact could foreshadow tougher sledding ahead when the parties return to the bargaining table in three years.

Under the IA’s rules, each of the 13 West Coast studios locals covered by the contract is allotted as many winner-take-all votes as the number of delegates they had at the union’s last convention, based on the size of their memberships. Altogether, the 13 locals cast 385 votes, with 193 needed either to ratify or reject the contract. The final vote was 312 votes in favor to 73 against, with Editors Guild Local 700 casting all 73 “no” votes.

Based on those figures, the pact was approved by a wide margin: 81% to 19%. But the popular vote was much closer – somewhere in the neighborhood of 53% in favor to 47% against and perhaps even closer, depending on the votes of two locals that so far have declined to say how large their majority “yes” votes were.

The lopsided nature of the delegate-vote count compared to the narrowness of the popular vote is due to the fact that 12 of the 13 locals voted to ratify the contract, while the Editors Guild voted overwhelmingly against it, and at a far higher turnout rate than any of the others.

Under the IA’s rules, a local is bound by the terms of a contract its members whole-heartedly rejected as long as a majority vote of the other locals is for ratification. But this wasn’t always the case. Prior to 1975, ratification by a majority of every local’s membership was required before a local agreement could take effect. But in 1975, IATSE revised its constitution and bylaws so that all local agreements would become effective upon an aggregate majority vote of the membership of all the locals. This led to a bitter legal battle in 1976 when Sound Local 695 — finding itself in the same situation the Editors Guild is in now — decided to put up a fight, filing a lawsuit against IATSE and the ANPTP that alleged breach of fair representation. The Sound Local lost its suit, and the IA put it into trusteeship.

The exact vote tally for the new contract still is unknown, as only 10 of the 13 locals have released their actual vote totals. The known votes of those 10 reporting locals left the “yes” votes trailing the “no” votes by more than 1,000 votes — 5,846 to 6,883. One of the three holdout locals, Prop Local 44 – the IA’s third-largest local – has disclosed that 32% of its roughly 5,700 members cast ballots and that 79% of those votes were in favor of the contract, with 21% opposed. Based on that data, about 1,440 of its members voted for the pact, while about 380 voted against. And that put the popular vote for ratification over the top by a slim margin of just 23 votes – 7,286 “yes” to 7,263 “no,” with the count of two other yes-voting locals still undisclosed.

Here’s a rundown by local, its number of electoral votes, number of ballots sent, turnout, “yes” and “no” votes:

Local 600: 76 votes, 6,925, 36%, 1,756-717
Local 700: 73 votes, 8,107, 71%, 608-5,135
Local 44: 56 votes, 5,700,* 32%, 1,440*-380*
Local 80: 33 votes, 3,500, 29%, 764-257
Local 800: 23 votes, 2,634, 32%, 730-102
Local 871: 21 votes, 2,315, 18%,228-182
Local 695: 19 votes, 1,856, 39%, 568-156
Local 705: 17 votes, 2,334, 32%, 504-236
Local 892: 10 votes, 1,037, 30%, 265-50
Local 729: 9 votes, 903, 42%, 357-26
Local 884: 2 votes, N/A, N/A, 66-22
Subtotal: 7,286-7,263
* Estimate

Make-Up & Hair Stylists Local 706, with 20 votes, has told its members that it will release its vote totals in an upcoming union bulletin, but Set Lighting Local 728, with 26 votes, has not released its totals and has not responded to Deadline’s requests for data.

According to information it provides to the Department of Labor, Local 706 has 2,040 voting members, while Local 728 has 2,609. If their turnout rates were similar to all the other yes-voting locals (35%), and their margins of approval also were in line with the average of the other yes-voting locals (75%), then the two holdout locals would add another 1,200 or so votes to the “yes” column and some 500 or so votes to the “no” column – making the final tally of all the locals somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,500 to 7,700 in favor of ratification. That’s an approval margin of about 800 votes, give or take a few hundred votes, out of more than 16,000 ballots cast.

Popular Vote Shows New IATSE Contract Is Not So Popular

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