Entertainment

IATSE Local 871 President Resigns, Discusses Contract Ratification – The Hollywood Reporter


IATSE Local 871 president Crystal Hopkins has resigned from her post due to personal obligations and because she says she “could not in good conscience” lead members amid the ratification of a new contract that has deeply divided membership.

Hopkins sent members a message informing them about her personal reasons for leaving on the evening of Nov. 11, the night before union members began the ratification vote on a tentative Basic Agreement deal reached the previous month with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Hopkins did not mention the tentative deal in that message because she was trying to stay “neutral” and allow members to come to their own conclusions on the deal, she told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday: “We had not voted yet and I did not think that appropriate at the time to throw that bomb.” She sent a lengthier message to the board of directors at the Local, which bargains on behalf of script supervisors, writers assistants, art department coordinators, production coordinators, production accountants and more roles. (Deadline was the first to report the news and offer a statement from Hopkins.)

In her statement, Hopkins says, “My resignation from Local 871 was driven primarily by my personal and family needs.” She adds, “Ancillary to that, I also was not the proper person to lead 871 through a ratification of the new contract.” Hopkins says that when negotiations with the AMPTP started in May, the union was united behind its key objectives, but after a lengthy process of negotiations without a deal, “the overwhelming and historic response of the membership for the strike authorization made clear to me that the priorities we were addressing were no longer adequate for the membership.”

Hopkins acknowledges that the Basic Agreement deal, ratified by a close margin and rejected by the popular vote, “took giant steps forward when compared to the history of our contracts.” However, she says, during the five-month process of negotiations, members solidified new bargaining priorities that she agreed with. Those priorities “should have been given more time and consideration,” she says. Therefore, “I could not in good conscience lead the membership of 871 through a ratification of this agreement.”

Hopkins adds, “Although 871 arguably stood to gain the most through the lens of immediately better conditions, and therefore also the most to lose, my personal principles of what unionism and solidarity mean, would not allow me to claim this agreement as a victory when the voices of so many union members were crying out that they needed more, and this agreement wasn’t fixing the problems they were willing to strike to fix.” Given these feelings, Hopkins says that she believes it behooves her and the Local and its members for her to step down. Still, “I will never stop fighting for the membership of IATSE and what they need. This is a temporary measure for me to re-assess the most healthy and productive way to move forward.”

Hopkins, an art department coordinator, has led the union since 2019 and also served as an interim business representative for nearly a year between 2019 and 2020.  Local 871 officer elections are currently underway, and per two sources in the Local, current vice president and fellow art department coordinator Marisa Shipley is running for the seat of president unopposed. THR has reached out to Shipley and Local 871 for comment.

Given that several roles represented by the Local are some of the lowest-paid in all of IATSE, Local 871’s key priority in the 2021 Basic Agreement negotiations was codifying “living wages” for membership. Members of the Local spearheaded the popular #IALivingWage hashtag over the summer, sharing sacrifices that some of them have made to work in the industry, to draw attention to their low minimum rates. When IATSE negotiators struck a Basic Agreement tentative deal with the AMPTP in mid-October, the union celebrated raises that the deal established for some of these workers: Lowest-paid roles rates’ would progressively rise from $16 an hour or a little bit over to $26 an hour by the end of the contract’s three-year term.

However, the deal was controversial, with some workers calling for IATSE to use its leverage to go back to the bargaining table and procure more gains for members. The deal was ratified with 256 delegates voting “yes” and 188 delegates voting “no,” while 50.4 percent of the popular vote rejected the deal. Local 871 was one of the eight Locals that overall voted “yes” on the deal.





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