Top isle film union
official suspended

The state film office had
received complaints about
the business agent’s alleged
strong-arm tactics

A leader of a local stage and movie production union, who has been the subject of numerous complaints for alleged strong-arm tactics, has been suspended without pay for 30 days, pending a union grievance trial.

Officials with the 380-member International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 665, confirmed the suspension of IATSE business agent Scott Wong but declined to comment on the reasons.

State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson said she had no details on the specific reasons for Wong's suspension but noted that he is known for "different tactics that have been cause for concern among the industry and among his own members."

She said at least two dozen complaints against Wong have been received by her office from producers and members of IATSE and rival union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, since he took on his position in December 2002.

Some complaints include allegations of strong-arm tactics used to convince producers to employ IATSE members and to convince members of rival unions to switch to IATSE.

Dawson said that she and other members of the commission's executive board have talked to Wong about the complaints.

She said she has also talked to the union's past and current president about Wong's alleged actions.

IATSE Local 665 President Archie Ahuna declined to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding Wong's suspension, saying it was an "internal thing." But he said the decision to suspend Wong was a local one.

Wong's grievance trial has not yet been scheduled, Ahuna said.

A source close to the issue who asked to remain anonymous said a grievance against Wong was filed last week. Members at the union's international level are expected to investigate.

Wong could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Complaints against Wong have been reported as recently as the local auditions for Fox TV show "American Idol," from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5, according to the source. Producers for the show could not be reached to comment.

Wong's union has provided stage hands, motion picture technicians and other specialists for a number of Hawaii-shot television shows and movies, including the long running "Hawaii Five-O" in the 1960s and "Magnum P.I." in the 1980s.

More recently, its members have worked for NBC's "Average Joe" and an infomercial starring David Hasselhoff.

Dawson said the complaints against Wong may have circulated within the theater and movie production industry and could prompt some producers to steer clear of working in Hawaii.

"We cannot ignore the fact that there is concern on the part of producers considering Hawaii as a location when they hear about union unrest, whether it is real or perceived," she said.

"I just want the situation to be resolved. There's a way to conduct business and look out for the best interests of the membership."


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