Thomas Short, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (that’s the guild representing all those unwashed below-the-line workers), yelled an outright “CUT” Thursday to his career atop the IATSE.
He offically retired, ending his 14-year stint as top man at the union.
Though he was a powerful negotiator and had strong opinions about union strength, Short had a checkered career with the IATSE, occasionally drawing the ire of other unions like the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America. Short was frustated by the WGA during its 100-day strike this spring, because it delayed contract talks and the Guild refused to apologize for the strike’s economic impact.
But Short has always been a man of the people in the IATSE. The former Cleveland stagehand always had an open ear for any union member who had something to say.
On a studio tour that I accompanied him in the mid-1990s, Short went from studio to studio, glad-handing and taking note of working conditions.
“Don’t you just love these people,” he exclaimed at the end of the tour. “To me it’s so important to listen to what the union members have to say.”
Short will be replaced by IATSE executive Matthew D. Loeb, who has been an International VP since 2002. He was one of the labor execs credited with devising and implementing the organizing and bargaining strategices under Short.
“I am not leaving for political or for health reasons, but rather because I have learned that life is short and there is a great deal that I have yet to experience and enjoy,” Short said in a statement.
Short had a year left on his four-year term as president. Loeb has been in charge of the film and TV production units for the last decade.
Membership in the IATSE blossomed under Short, increasing more than 50% to cover more than 400 locals and more than 110,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.
“I have put forth my energy and every effort to enrich this organization and enlisted the help of what I believe to be a phenomenal staff of intelligent, sophisticated and progressive individuals who have stood ready to work hard and assist in accomplishing the goals I believe we had to achieve in order to survive the many challenges facing this International,” he said.
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