Your Right To Run For Office

May 4, 2010

The IATSE Convention of 2009 in Orlando, Florida brought with it more exclusionary changes to our union. As members’ rights are poised to be reduced by the so called “Green Ballot”, your rights have already been severely curtailed by a vote pushed through by Steven Poster and Eastern Region Director Chaim Kantor at the IA Convention.

Several of us (now officially named as the evil CDU’ers) spoke out against a new Constitution and By Laws amendment on the Convention floor. Of course, we were reviled by Poster, Kantor and others – as it is their dearest wish to make Local 600 more and more exclusionary – a nice little club… for the chosen few. First class airfare anyone???

In brief, the amendment requires that only “working members” – can run for office. That’s the broad stroke. Federal labor law stipulates that one must be “a member in good standing” and that’s it. As you’ll read the text of the amendment, you’ll see that the hoops you must now jump through in order to qualify to run for office will make it more and more difficult for many members.

Please take a few minutes to read the following text. It will make it clear. Then what follows are sections of verbatim text recorded at the Convention. One of my favorite things about IA conventions is that the minutes are recorded word for word – and that gives us a fighting chance to see some truth.

Re: IA Constitution and By Laws: Article Nineteen, Section 4. Officers:

“”… to be eligible for elective or appointive office in any local union of this Alliance a person shall be actively engaged in the industry within the Local’s jurisdiction and have worked for at least one hundred and twenty (120) days in the past thirty-six (36) months, and have been a member of the local union in continuous good standing for two years…”

(It goes on to exempt all incumbents from this requirement – thus – the reason it passed so easily on the convention floor.):

“Time served as an officer of a local union shall be applicable towards the “one hundred and twenty (120) days in the past 36 months’ requirement.”

Oh, and here’s the kicker: the President of the IA, by this new amendment, can make a personal decision to waive the rule, if he sees fit: “…, except that this provision shall not apply … or where such requirement has been waived in writing by the International President in special cases where the circumstances, in his judgment, warrant it. …”

So… it’s a rule, but not if the President, one single individual, decides it isn’t. Too much power in one person’s hands? Ya think?

Here’s the exchange that transpired on the Convention Floor, following the presentation and seconding of the amendment. This exchange is verbatim from the minutes of the 2009 Convention.

“ PRESIDENT LOEB: On the question? Microphone No. 6.

DELEGATE KRISTIN GLOVER, LOCAL 600: Regarding this Constitution and By Laws amendment: In these times of extreme economic hardship, loss of jobs, and including drastic reduction in wages for many entertainment workers, this amendment is severely discriminatory . As the founder and former national chair of the Local 600 Diversity Committee, I can say that our committee gathered a lot of information regarding the state of protected classes in the workplace. It is a known fact that in times of work shortage the first people to be laid off or simply just not get hired are minorities, women and older members.

PRESIDENT LOEB: Please stay on the question.

DELEGATE GLOVER: This is on the question, sir.

PRESIDENT LOEB: This is with respect to – hold on – hold on – this is with respect to holding office. Go ahead.

DELEGATE GLOVER: Thank you. As such, this amendment stands to be extremely discriminatory. Also leaving it to the discretion of one person, however fair he or she may be, could leave this open to favoritism and unfair advantage. I submit that this amendment is prejudicial and unfair and may well leave the IASTE open to suit, a lawsuit from the protected classes. Therefore, I urge you to vote no on this. Thank you.” …

“PRESIDENT LOEB. Thank you. Microphone No. 6 please.

DELEGATE CHAIM KANTOR, Local 600: I’ve been a member of the I.A. for 29 years, an officer for 20, and a business agent for 6 years. This is simply a fundamental work requirement so that the people who run your local have an understanding of your business and a stake in the industry. (applause) A few years ago my local was captured by a large group of members who had no stake in the industry, who did not work in the industry, and the results were disastrous. … ”

(my note – if you listened to a recording here, you’d here me yelling out “That’s a lie! booooo” – and yes, it’s a lie – and outrageous lie.)

Kantor cont’d.: “… They were more interested in proving to their fellow compatriots that this organization was not relevant to them and did not represent their interests and, as a result, we suffered in negotiations. I urge you to vote in favor of this change. (applause)…”

“PRESIDENT LOEB: Microphone No. 7

DELEGATE STEVEN POSTER, Local 600: I’m president, Local 600. President Loeb, I’d like to comment on the work of the industry amendment. I saw what happened to Local 600 when non- working members became elected officers and board members. My predecessor had worked fewer than five days in the camera craft during the previous three years. He had no stake in the industry and was out of touch with the needs of our members. He could say or do anything without fear of consequences, and there were consequences. Together, with the support of other nonworkers, he divided us internally, alienated us from other locals and the International and weakened the IATSE’s bargaining position in the Basic negotiations. These nonworking members disserved our members and the IATSE. We all saw the destruction caused by nonworking members taking the leadership in SAG and WGA. We can’t afford to let this happen to the IATSE again.” …

“DELEGATE DOUG HART, Local 600: You have noticed that a lot of the speakers have been from 600. This is obviously a serious issue for 600. The administration spoken of was elected properly by our members who were frustrated at the conditions within our local. It was not highjacked by a group of nonworkers. That’s an absurd, ridiculous claim. I have 38 years in one local, 34 in another local and six years in a third local. I’ve dedicated my life to being a contributing part of my organizations, especially 600 at the moment.

I do not work very much in the industry. As I get older, the calls for work get less and less. I’ve got two bad knees. I don’t bounce around the way I used to.

And other people are in my situation, especially in this economic crisis that we’re in in this country. Many of our members are not working the number of days that we would like to work. We’re not unemployed by choice. These are factors beyond our control. And to discriminate against those members who want to help their local and who can get elected by their memberships to represent them at executive boards and as officers, – to deny that is just not what a labor union should be doing. And it’s embarrassing to me that this would even come up.

This is a perfect case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Right now the requirement of remaining in good standing is difficult enough for many members hurt by the economy. Our particular local, 600, is extremely vulnerable to this because of the freelance nature of this industry, probably more than the projectionists and the stagehands and many of the other crafts here, not as freelance in nature. You go to work for long term at a theater or whatever, and many of our large membership do not get enough days to qualify for this.

I feel this is discriminatory. I know I’m going to get yelled at here. It’s racist, it’s sexist, it’s ageist. It discriminates against the retired members who will no longer qualify. This is all the things that a labor union should not be. And I urge you to vote no on this. Thank you. (Applause) “

And so it went – and the amendment passed. The fix was in. No one listened to reason. They listened, instead, to lies and propaganda.

And who are those “non working” members that Chaim Kantor and Steven Poster referred to? Let’s see… Haskell Wexler, Allan Disler, Paul Ferrazzi, Bill Roberts, David Garden, Tim McHugh, Mark Hardin, Scott Kaye, Tony Magaletta, Tom Weston, Hiro Narita, Gabor Kover and Doug Hart to name but a few of the CDU members – yes THE COALITION FOR A DEMOCRATIC UNION who were and are hard working members and continue to work to this day.

POSTER AND HIS GANG ARE VERY GOOD AT ONE THING: PERPETRATING LIES UPON LIES UPON LIES. They follow a tried and true fascist methodology: SAY IT OFTEN AND LOUD ENOUGH AND PEOPLE WILL BEGIN TO BELIEVE IT.

And so it goes, with their lies about non-working members.

My hope is that someday, the truth will be known about all that has transpired under their regime. They are very good at one thing: propaganda. Very, very good.

Kristin Glover
NEB member
Founder and 1st National Chair, Diversity Committee
IA Delegate (5 conventions)

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