Steven Poster, ASC, the interim president of the International Cinematographers Guild, told Below the Line he has decided to run for a full three-year term in the upcoming Local 600 election of officers this spring. The ICG, with 5,700 members, is one of the biggest unions in IATSE.Poster was narrowly voted into office last July following the impeachment of former ICG president Gary Dunham by the national executive board of the camera guild. Poster was one of main prosecutors in the contentious case against Dunham, who became Local 600 president in 2004 when a reform slate he headed swept to victory. “We’ve been turning things around here and to leave now, I thought, would be a mistake for everybody,” said Poster, explaining why he has decided to run. “Our respect in the industry, in the community, and with other locals has improved tremendously, and I want to continue that good work.”Some half dozen ICG members have expressed interest in running against Poster for the union presidency, say sources, but the official candidates for all the union posts won’t be announced for another week or two, while names are being vetted to see if they meet union qualifications to run for office.Because of the key role Poster played in the previous ICG president’s ouster, one issue already brewing and likely to be central in the upcoming campaign is that he mainly wanted to get rid of Dunham, because he wanted his job.“There was never an element of self-interest,” said Poster. “If I didn’t see there was a need, I wouldn’t have stepped in.”The charges against Dunham were that he had used union funds for “unauthorized” purposes, though not for himself. More broadly, the complaints about his stewardship ranged from allegations he had botched the 2005 negotiations for a new Basic Agreement, jeopardizing the jobs of camera operators; and that he had hijacked the union’s agenda by persistently but fruitlessly tying to get Local 600 to support the filing of a trade action against Canada as a way to curb runaway production.“I helped impeach the man because I felt we were in trouble as a union because of his actions,” added Poster, who is also a former president of the American Society of Cinematographers. “I looked around and realized I’d better put my money where my mouth was. I didn’t intend to be president, but I saw this job needed to be filled.”Poster acknowledged that the how and why of Dunham’s ouster will be raised in the upcoming campaign. “Of course it will be an issue,” he said. “It will be an issue for the rest of my life.” However, in his view, the sharp divisions plaguing the union under Dunham have diminished.“Most members are very tired of this fighting, and I’m getting tremendous support from most of them,” he asserted. “The real issues are staying ahead in technology so we can train our members to be viable in the new world, and to make sure they remain the best camera crews in the world,” he declared.Poster predicted that few of Local 600’s current leaders, many of whom won office running on a slate with Dunham, would get re-elected. “I would be very, very surprised if the entire hierarchy of the organization didn’t look very different after this election,” he said.
Written by Jack Egan