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IATSE Sound Local Put In Trusteeship After Leader Complains Of “Shakedown” By Leaders Of Louisiana Union

BY DAVID ROBB, Special To Deadline

Deadline.com » Blog ArchiveHollywood Union Put In Trusteeship Amid “Shakedown” Allegations
Deadline.com » Blog ArchiveHollywood Union Put ...
Allegations of a union “shakedown” and “extortion” in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel have been leveled against leaders of an IATSE local in New O
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  David Robb is a long established LA labor reporter, he used to write regularly for the LA Weekly and exposed the previous  "leader" Tom Short as a bully and thug.


There are lots of theories of what is really going on behind the curtains - I have no credible insight. The folks in the office just want to stay on the payroll.

Is the IA trying to just get rid of thorn in the side Osburne? Is he just being the usual idiot unable to work with anybody?


Anyway what is really sad is that there is no leadership in 695 that is preparing for a non return of Osburn and is looking for some smart young labor lawyer who can spend our combined $260,000 of his + E.A. salary and be effective.

.... and why does this board not have a LABOR heading? many of us rely on the contracts the IATSE negotiates for our living. Something to discuss !


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as usual, there is a lot more than the masses are being told;

it does sound, to me, like the NOLA local was found (by the NLRB) to be engaging in bad shenanigans, and ordered to pay a fine, to make the mixer involved whole for the gig they effectively denied him.  On that basis, I would not, as JO did not, think that the NOLA local's assessment is appropriate, and perhaps it should have gone back to the NLRB for their interpretation of what they ordered NOLA to pay; was it a fine, as I would interpret it, or was it "wages" for work in NOLA...  Mr. Weber did not actually work in their jurisdiction.


OTOH, I am sure I am not the only one who is not surprised that the HQ has been after JO>>>


and notice the differing priorities:  In this situation, the HQ is concerned about its authority, the NOLA local is concerned about its $$, and Jim is concerned about his members.

Edited by studiomprd
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and notice the differing priorities:  The HQ is concerned about its authority, the NOLA local is concerned about its $$, and Jim is concerned about his members.


Sorry, I completely disagree.  JO spent so much time and effort on these individual members and these individual issues that he totally lost sight of the big picture and the majority of his membership.  His bull-in-a-china-shop tactics made the average member fearful of bringing up the day to day troubles which plague the industry.  And the complete disregard of working conditions by him and all the other local BAs in the contract negotiations is simply inexcusable.


The IA, be it the locals or the international, are only out to protect their fat paychecks and perpetuate their existence, not to actually provide a safe and healthy work environment for their members.

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Jim Osburn is a controversial figure. He has supporters and detractors and they each have good reason for their varied opinions.


But, characterizing him as someone interested primarily in preserving his cushy job and fat paycheck is a slander he does not deserve.


I’ve known him more than twenty years and my work editing the Quarterly Magazine, and the Newsletter before that, gave me many opportunities to interact with him personally. It is my perception that he was always motivated by the welfare of the members and went well out of his way to avoid profiting from his position. It is, admittedly, a well-paid assignment but the rate (Y1 @ 48 hours per week) is spelled out in the Constitution and By-Laws. While he also had a travel allowance, he typically paid for travel to conferences and the like from his own pocket. (You may check the LM-2 reports for yourself.) He also provided the incentive awards dispensed at meetings from his own funds.


While Jim was available to speak with any member, Dean Striepke and Scott Bernard (in recent years) typically handled the day-to-day business of listening and responding to grievances. Not every complaint would have a positive outcome but, when I was in the office, I would regularly hear each of them on the phone interacting with members. And, they all made field calls.


It’s a common failing of older men to fight again the battles of their youth. In his constant efforts to maintain the Local’s grip on video technology (in competition with the Camera Local), Jim may have been guilty of some age myopia. But he was also aware that when locals loose oversight of disciplines to other locals, they tend to shrink and become irrelevant. Effectively policing a contract, never easy, becomes particularly difficult if one is seen as small and weak.


Blaming him for erosion in the contract demonstrates a misunderstanding of how the contracts are negotiated. The International is almost solely responsible for negotiating the contract and individual locals have very little voice in the matter. It can be a very frustrating experience to sit in a negotiating session for ages waiting for a chance to bring up an issue important to members of the Local, uncertain if the International or other Locals will back the play. I’ve been there and watched the process.



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David has said it quite well.  I'll add that the individual locals get to make pretty much token appearances at the negotiations, and I have witnessed JO go to bat for his members, like to keep the UST required in the basic agreement, and mostly get thrown under the bus by HQ; The national guilds (600 and 700) do have a bit more clout.

and the pay for JO's position was included in the constitution stuffed down our throats by the last trusteeship (under Tommy).

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David, sorry if you find my view slanderous.  You know I care a great deal for you and your knowledge and your experience.  So I hope this difference in option doesn't define our long relationship.  JO is undoubtedly a passionate man, but his selective action has been an issue with me since I joined in 1995.


Most of the younger guys couldn't care less about the unions.  They don't understand or don't agree with the need to protect the labor force.  I care a great deal about unions, but I am saddened by their ineffectiveness.  Not just in our industry.



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Robert, you and I are fine.


But I couldn't stand by while a man who spent decades struggling for the membership was accused of indifference.


He was incapable of being brief and his inability to work through an agenda expeditiously could be maddening.


But he was at loggerheads with the International because of his vigorous efforts to protect members and that demands respect.



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