LOS ANGELES: Hollywood's only PR union has folded into another
entertainment industry union, leaving some members concerned about how
their interests will be represented in the new structure, and how the
merger was handled.
The Publicists Guild of America, known as Local 818 of the International
Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), merged its 400
active members and 900 total members with the International
Cinematographers Union (Local 600 of the IATSE), effective January
Local 600 has about 4,500 members across the country, leaving some of
818's much smaller constituency questioning how the larger guild will
protect publicists' interests. Furthermore, some question if the two
disparate professions represented - camera professionals and
entertainment publicists - make a harmonious merger.
"We're afraid we will get swallowed up," lamented one 818 member. "When
you merge 400 people into a guild of 4,500, essentially that guild
The Publicists Guild was founded in 1955. The union represents mostly
studio publicists and unit publicists, who handle on-set PR.
Bruce Doering, national executive director of the cinematographers'
union, countered fears of reduced representation by pointing to the
union's successful history of mergers, and promising the organization's
commitment to serve all members.
Local 600 was formed in 1996 as a result of the successful merger of
three smaller unions. But some 818 members have complained that they
were not properly consulted before the decision.
The Publicists Guild's business agent, Marlene Mat-taschiam, said those
charges were unfair, pointing out that members were notified of a
feasibility study regarding the merger in October, and were invited to
attend a subsequent meeting on the matter.
Mattaschiam confirmed that 818 membership would have representation on
the Cinematographer's national board, and that Publicists Guild staff
would be moving into the 600's office later this month.