Sunday, March 05, 2006

Negotiations Past (Part II)

The fifteen years of negotiations in which I've been involved has seen a steady evolution in their dynamics:
When I started, the IATSE -- our mother international -- took a much more "hands off" approach to the negotiations of its locals, expecially TAG's.  We weren't in the big IATSE bargaining unit, many IA officials of fifteen years ago were sort of vague on our various crafts and dynamics, and the IA's whole style of governance was different.  Today, the IA (140,000 members strong) is much more plugged in to local negotiations, much more hands on.  This change has made our local negotiations less of a roller coaster ride and (I think) more productive.  But the adrenaline rush isn't as great. We're not out there by ourselves anymore, flying through mid-air.
I've negotiated with two different TAG Presidents, Tom Sito and Kevin Koch. (Karan Storr, President in 1991, was too tied up with work that year to get involved much.  Same with Tom in Contract Talks 2000.  "Osmosis Jones" took up huge amounts of his time.)
Tom was there with his dukes up in '94 and '97.  Kevin was heavily involved in the 2003 negotiations -- his first.  Kevin's a quick study, and learned in one go-'round what it took me two contract cycles to learn:  there's the public presentation of negotiations with all parties present in the big conference room, and then there's the hard bargaining in "side bar." And the most important element in side-bar is, you have to know when to stand firm and when to compromise to get a deal.  Kevin picked this up fast.
Any negotiation is tough under the best of circumstances; I've felt real lucky having Tom Sito and Kevin Koch there to do so much of the heavy lifting.


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