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ICG Unrest

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By Jack EganMembers of the support staff of the International Cinematographers Guild have moved to form their own union, to increase their own job security and, say sources, to protect themselves from “abusive behavior” by some members of the new group of Local 600 officials that were sworn into office last June.The staff, numbering around 20, has contacted the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) to help them form a union and to represent them in contract negotiations with the ICG as their employer.In April, members of Local 600 voted into office an upstart slate, headed by Gary Dunham, the new president, and swept the establishment slate out of office. Voter unhappiness with the ICG’s stance on runaway production led to Dunham’s 52-to-48 percent victory over Stephen Lighthill, ASC, who was supported by the outgoing head of the cinematographers guild for the previous 20 years, George Spiro Dibie, ASC.OPEIU Local 174 represents some 2,000 support staff and clerical workers, all with jobs at entertainment-related entities in Southern California such as studios, the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Funds and a few Hollywood unions, such as the Screen Actor’s Guild. The parent OPEIU is one of the largest AFL-CIO unions, with 145,000 members in this country and Canada, mainly white-collar professional, technical, office and clerical employees.The OPEIU has been holding discussions with members of the staff at the ICG and is trying to set up an initial negotiating session with Local 600 officials sometime in the next few weeks, according to Joe Kaplon, an attorney at Sherman Oaks law firm Wohlner, Kaplon, Phillips, Young & Cutler. Kaplon works with OPEIU and will be part of the negotiating team that will include Christine Page, head of the OPEIU local, and a bargaining committee made up of two or three ICG staff members.“The staff members came to us after they had a change of leadership at Local 600 earlier this year, but I do not know what their specific issues are and will not know until we get further into negotiations,” said Kaplon.“Fears of losing their jobs because of payback by the new regime against the previous one and abusive behavior on the part of a few officials,” triggered the staff’s move to organize, said one source.Repeated calls to Local 600 president Dunham and long-time executive director Bruce Doering for comment on the staff’s desire to form their own union went unreturned.

Written by Jack Egan

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