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Art Directors Guild wraps up merger details

Its operations are combined with those of two smaller unions representing illustrators and set designers, and a new board is named. Local 790 and Local 847 had opposed the deal.

February 27, 2009|Richard Verrier

The Art Directors Guild said Thursday that it had put the finishing touches on its controversial merger with two smaller unions representing illustrators and set designers.

The guild said it had combined the operations of the three unions and named a new 20-member board with representatives from each craft.

As expected, Scott Roth will remain as executive director of the guild, which now has 2,000 members, up from 1,500.

The three-way merger was one of the last acts of Tom Short before he retired last year as president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, an umbrella labor group. Short said the combination would strengthen the bargaining clout of the guilds and reduce turf fights among them.

But the action was unpopular with members of Local 790 (illustrators and matte artists) and Local 847 (set designers and model makers). Members of the locals voted it down, fearing they would lose autonomy and be forced to join a union dominated by art directors, who act as their supervisors.

The National Labor Relations Board, however, refused to block the merger.

Joseph Musso, former president of Local 790, who opposed the merger, said he and others had little choice but to go along with it.

"We're trying to make the best of something that we're not totally enthralled with," said Musso, who is a member of the new executive board.

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richard.verrier@latimes.com

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