Lewis Rothenberg has resigned as president of the Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600, citing differences with the union’s senior staff and national officers.
Rothenberg’s departure, announced Friday, stemmed partly from his refusal to change his legal residence from New Jersey to Los Angeles, as required by the local rules.
He defeated incumbent Steven Poster last May for a three-year term. Poster had been the elected head of the ICG since 2006, but Rothenberg won the position through a campaign that promised more organizing and better communication with the membership, which numbers more than 8,700 and is the largest IATSE local in Hollywood, repping camera crews and publicists.
“My vision for this union, as to who runs it and how it should be run, is not fully aligned with some of our senior staff and national officers,” Rothenberg said in a message to members Friday. “While I truly believe everyone in the leadership of this local has the members in mind, there are major ideological differences between some of us. I ran for this office to bring change, unite us and increase activism. Regretfully, I do not feel that I will be able to accomplish this with the vast differences of philosophy of the leadership team.”
Rothenberg said he also clashed the other Local 600 leaders over the union’s requirement that the president have his or her principal residency in Los Angeles. He explained that he had sublet an apartment in Sherman Oaks last year, but could not change his legal residence from New Jersey.
“I would not be able to file a California, non-resident tax return, putting at a minimum an additional $8,000 per year tax burden on me and my family. On top of all the other financial and personal sacrifices I was willingly, and by my own choice, making, this I could not do,” he explained.
He said no one at Local 600 disputed his plans, but that had changed since he was elected.
The Local 600 said that Rothenberg will step down Friday. Dejan Georgevich, who currently serves as the local vice president, will assume the role of interim national president until the group’s national executive board convenes to elect a successor. The election must take place within 30 days, as dictated by the guild’s constitution and bylaws.
“Local 600 national executive officers regret the resignation of president Lewis Rothenberg, and we would like to express our appreciation for his leadership and service,” the group said in a statement. “We wish the best for him and his family. The executive leadership team reaffirms our commitment to working together in the best interests of our membership as we go through this transition of leadership.”
National executive director Rebecca Rhine stated, “I want to assure our members that all systems are in place to ensure a smooth transition. On behalf of myself and our staff, we thank president Rothenberg for his strong support of our work during his tenure. His commitment to members and the Local was long-standing and unwavering.”