Just two weeks before ratification ballots are due on the new IATSE contract, a mini-brouhaha is breaking out among locals over a published letter that called for the hard-fought contract with the producers to be rejected.

The letter from Sound Local 695, published Monday in Daily Variety, called for the members to turn down the pact because the producers have “failed” in the last few contracts to guarantee work in exchange for union concessions.

“The producers havefailed to demonstrate the value of this effort and have not provided an increase in the amount of work available to our members,” the open letter said.

Leaders of several locals denounced the epistle Monday as “too little too late” in the negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

“The yeas and nays are almost in,” said Jim Buck, business agent of Grips Local 80. “(The letter is) a day late and a dollar short.”

Due date on the ballots was moved back by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees to Feb. 7 because of the Jan. 17 earthquake.

Meanwhile, other leaders called the letter a misguided attempt at stopping a contract that was generally approved after two months of overtime talks that many initially believed would leave the IATSE members with nothing. “I think we came out pretty good considering everything,” said one local chief.

‘Golden’ objections

After talks ended last month, only Sound Local 695 and Camera Local 659 rejected the wage and benefits package because they were upset with rules regarding “golden time.” Camera Local 659 said in its latest newsletter that its board overcame its objections and decided to back the pact.

A separate anonymous letter that surfaced Monday in faxes to various locals decried the Sound Local ad as the efforts of “a disgruntled group within the industry called ‘Sound United’ who are spearheading this campaign.”

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