Joe Aredas, the esteemed longtime leader of IATSE’s West Coast office, which includes all the Hollywood locals, was honored with the Fellowship and Service Award from the Motion Picture Editors Guild, Local 700, at a banquet held at the Universal Sheraton Starlight Ballroom Saturday night.
The award from MPEG was established nine years ago to recognize an individual “who embodies the values the Guild holds most dear: professionalism, collaboration, mentorship, generosity of spirit and a commitment to the labor movement.” Past recipients include award-winning editors Donn Cambern, Dede Allen, Carol Littleton, Don Hall and Donald O. Mitchell along with IA chairman emeritus Tom Short.
Aredas, now retired, received the award from Mike Miller, his successor as the international representative in charge of the IA’s West Coast office based in Los Angeles, a job he still holds. Aredas held that key position from 1998 to 2006, culminating a career that began in 1967 at the MGM machine shop where he designed and fabricated camera and editing equipment and where he joined IA Local 789, the former Cinetechnicians Union.
Miller praised Aredas, known for being an unflappable negotiator with an impeccable reputation for fairness and integrity, as being akin to a driver with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brakes, at the ready for all circumstances that might arise. Understated and modest as always, Aredas said the course of his career “like a lot of things in my life, was almost an accident.”
The honoree has always worked in the film industry, but with long stints on the union side and also in the private sector. “He’s one of the few individuals who has sat on both sides of the negotiating table and therefore has developed and maintained an overriding sense of fairness,” said Alan Heim, president of the Editors Guild.
After a layoff at MGM, Aredas took a temporary job at Consolidated Film Industries that ended up lasting 12 years. CFI was a leading film lab in Los Angeles for many decades, winning numerous Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievement. In 1980, Aredas returned to the union fold, becoming assistant business representative of IA Local 695, the sound technicians union. He held that position for seven years, and then returned to CFI as vice president of labor relations and human resources.
In December 1997, he again left CFI to become chief executive officer at the motion picture and television industry’s Contract Services Administration Trust Fund, which oversees pension and health care benefits for union members, and is jointly administered by IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. In 1998 then IA president Short recruited him to become the head of the giant entertainment union’s all-important West Coast office, based on his experience in negotiations and his nuts and bolts familiarity with labor contracts.
In his first year, Aredas was instrumental in the move by the IA to get Local 695, the sound technicians union, to cede jurisdiction of postproduction sound mixers, recordists and engineers, to MPEG. Further consolidation with editors working in New York and other locals led to the creation of a greatly expanded editors guild, which is one reason he got the coveted Fellowship and Service Award from Local 700. MPEG subsequently became only the second IA local granted a national rather than a regional charter. Today it has offices in New York and Hollywood and represents more than 7200 postproduction professionals around the country, making it the largest single local in the IA.
Los Angeles-born Aredas has held many other leadership posts, including vice president, California Labor Federation; board of directors, Motion Picture Television Fund; board of directors, Motion Picture Editors Guild; board of directors and past president of Filipino American Service Group; board of directors Motion Picture Pension and Health Plans; board member, California Film Commission; past chairman of the Los Angeles Entertainment Industry Development Corporation and the Los Angeles World Airports Board of Commissioners from 2005 to 2013. He currently serves as a vice president for the Regional Airport Improvement Corporation and is on the board of directors of Birdi & Associates, a software company located in Pasadena, Calif.