Chuck Parker faces a tough re-election as national executive director of the Art Directors Guild, IATSE Local 800. Three years ago he ran unopposed, but this time four challengers – including two former presidents of guild – come up against him. Ballots will go out on March 29 and will be counted on April 19.
The Art Directors Guild is unusual in that it is the only Hollywood guild with national jurisdiction that elects its chief executive – the result of a 2016 Department of Labor ruling that found that its national executive director is an “officer” and not an “employee,” thus requiring election by the membership. It was how Parker was first elected to the position in 2016, beating longtime incumbent Scott Roth, who had never stood for election before but was appointed by the board for 18 years. . In 2020, the job brought in almost $250,000 a year.
The four candidates seeking to unseat Parker are Marcia Hinds, Susan Largent and former CEO chairs Mimi Gramatky and Thomas Walsh.
In his campaign statement, Parker said he was building on his record of the past six years and his support for IATSE’s last two film and television contacts, including last year’s tightly ratified pact that was approved by two-thirds of the voting guild members.
“In both of these negotiations, we were able to significantly increase contribution levels to our benefit plans,” Parker wrote. “It was these increases obtained during the 2018 negotiations that allowed us to fund the essential eligibility extensions for Covid-19 health insurance. In 2021, we made historic gains in film industry pension and health plan contribution levels for on-call employees, as well as support for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and health and safety that will change the industry. We have built alliances with other locals that will serve us in future negotiations and beyond.
“The future, he writes, has not been written and we must write ours. This is how we earn the respect of our industry peers, which we wholeheartedly deserve, and the power and influence to protect our craft and our members.
Walsh, who served as the guild’s president from 2003 to 2013, is one of Parker’s harshest critics, saying membership dues have been “wasted on excessive and unnecessary executive travel”, that staff members of the guild were “subjected… to emotional intimidation” and that there was “no audit of our financial or management practices and staff performance”.
“For the past nine years,” Walsh wrote in his campaign statement, “a minority of members have maintained control of our governance and wasted our dues. They have shown a lack of management acumen and lack of transparency in the execution of members’ business affairs. Our greatest challenge is to restore accountability and trust in our governance.
Gramatky, who served as the guild’s president from 2013 to 2016, said in her statement that she believes in the “five Cs: connection, collaboration, creativity, and compromise to achieve consensus!” The pandemic has given pause, but the acceleration continues. Technology has advanced globalization. Freelance continues as a business model. Zooming and 3D images are commonplace in art departments. Pay equity must be resolved. Recent contract negotiations have clarified that control and competition lead to conflict and low success. »
She added, “Being a National Executive Director takes dedicated work. This requires practicing the 5Cs across all occupations, genders, ages, and ethnicities. The division must stop! Eliminate competitive egos. Control and appeasement are not options. The 5Cs commitment starts with your participation. Please vote.”
Hinds, a former guild board member, is also critical of how the guild is run.
“For years, we have called for transparency,” she wrote in her campaign statement. “Demand fair job representation, the freedom to express our opinions without repercussions. Not having a successful trade while another trade has poor representation. We need to stop the gossip, cliques and bullying against members. Our members should never be afraid of not being hired because they have a different opinion. It’s worse today than it’s ever been. This must stop! These are just a few of the reasons why I want to take over and become your new National General Manager.
“The board hadn’t done an audit in four years,” Hinds added. “This is unacceptable. I am of the opinion that not only the board is responsible, but our national managing director as well as the associate national managing director are responsible. When a person disagrees with the board, it must not be muted. I have seen members raise their hands being ignored in meetings. This censorship cannot continue. MPs have the right to scrutinize the budget before it is passed Members have the right to tell their representatives if they approve of expenses, how they are paid and how it will affect their dues.
Largent, a member of the guild for over 20 years, describes herself as an “outlier” running for union office for the first time.
“I think it’s time for ADG members to be heard, to have a bigger role in decisions affecting their careers, and to have progressive new contracts,” she wrote in her campaign statement. “While it is important to have experienced people involved in Union operations, the other candidates have held other positions within the ADG, but everything has remained on the status quo. I’m the outlier person who hasn’t run for union office before.
“I will be a proactive voice and facilitate change so that the best interests of members are at the forefront,” Largent continued. “Let’s move forward together! I am one of you; I work side by side with you. I hear you and understand your concerns. I have them too. Did the Syndicate not know the answer to your questions or even return your call? Have your union representatives stopped by your office prior to contract negotiations so that you can speak face to face and voice concerns or ask questions? Did they make themselves available in person or did they get back to you with answers to your questions? I want to be your spokesperson for contracts that reflect today’s world and challenges.
The guild also elects or re-elects an Associate National Executive Director, who as of 2020 has paid over $200,000 per year. In this race, the titular and Parker ally who goes by the dooner name takes on Joel Cohen, the guild’s field representative for five years. Many other board seats representing the guild’s many trades are also up for grabs.