Dejon Ellis, Jr., won a close vote on Sunday to take over as interim leader of IATSE Local 80, in an election marked by lingering hard feelings over last year’s contract negotiations.
Local 80 represents about 3,800 grips, as well as craft service workers and set medics. In November, the local voted resoundingly against the new IATSE contract, which covers 13 locals on the West Coast, and which was narrowly ratified. Many within the local argued that the lead IATSE negotiators had not taken a hard enough line, failing to win sufficient concessions on pay and working hours.
Thom Davis, a top-ranking IATSE official who had led the local since 1998, was a strong supporter of the agreement. He was up for re-election in March and would likely have faced stiff competition. He announced in December that he would retire at the end of the year.
The union met via Zoom on Sunday to elect an interim business manager. Ellis, who has been an assistant business representative, defeated Joel Galarza, the vice president of the local, by a vote of 178-168. Galarza spoke out against the new contract and won support from many of those who were most vocally opposed to it.
Ellis, who was part of the leadership team, said he was constrained in arguing against the deal.
“When I did speak about it, I said this was the best deal we could get without a strike,” Ellis said. “I never told them to vote yes.”
Both are likely to face each other again in the election for a new three-year term. Voting in that race runs from March 23 to April 15.
“I’m really about taking us into the future, getting us through the storm and unifying our members, and getting us back to a family,” Ellis said.