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Local Hero: Marjo Bernay Was the Glue in IATSE’s Contract Negotiations

Recently retired, she's most proud of the org’s health plan

JOB DESCRIPTION

Marjo Bernay (pictured above in the late 1990s) was the invisible force behind the union’s contract negotiations, sorting out jurisdictional questions between locals and other unions, as well as helping to maintain contract enforcement and serving as a general problem solver. She was a member of organizations promoting the entertainment industry, including the California Film Commission, the Los Angeles Film Development Committee and the Los Angeles County Film Commission. She’s particularly proud of her service as a trustee of the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans, especially its expanded coverage to such areas as transplants, and she notes that she was the first woman from the labor side to chair the Health Plan.

(From the pages of the April 9 issue of Variety.)

SPECIAL CHALLENGES

There were two obstacles: the digital age (“We had our first computer class in 1980, and it was tough to persuade people this was the direction the industry was heading.”); and male skepticism (“As a woman, you have to work twice as hard as a man.”)

BACKGROUND

She’s from Los Angeles, and attended Los Angeles High School on Olympic Boulevard. She’s from a labor family, the daughter of the late Josef Bernay, who began working as a union leader during the 1930s. She was previously at Avnet Electronics and Helene Curtis and was a property manager before hooking up with the IATSE in 1979.

SIDE INTEREST

Bernay is a dedicated follower of an NFL team that moved back north to Oakland in 1994: “I remain calm by being a Raiders fan,” she says. Decorations for her March 23 sendoff party were in Raider silver and black; gifts included a jersey autographed by her favorite player, former wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff.

STATS

Name: Marjo Bernay

Title: Recently retired business agent for the Art Directors Guild, Local 800; the Illustrators & Matte Artists, Local 790; and Set Designers & Model Makers, Local 847 from 1979 until they merged with the ADG in 2008. She was also business agent of Story Analysts,
Local 854.

Function: Represented art directors, illustrators, matte artists, set designers, model makers, story analysts

Domain: West Coast headquarters, Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Burbank

Years on the job: 33

Number of days worked: 8,000+

Number of employees represented per year: 750+

Key document: IATSE Hollywood Basic Agreement

Local Hero is a tribute to the people who are invisible but invaluable: They’re not in the spotlight, but the biz couldn’t function without them.

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