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Film union: `protection’ of local chapter is priority

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico film union is anticipating significant turnout at its membership meeting this weekend in light of a lawsuit against its business agent, the union itself and its parent organization.

In an email to members obtained by the Journal, Doug Acton, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 480, wrote that the meeting Sunday would accommodate “an anticipated large crowd.”

“I know everyone wants answers right now and rumors are running wild,” wrote Acton. “Please remember that this is a legal matter . . . the protection of this Local is our priority.”

Acton also said in the email that the union’s attorney would attend the meeting to answer questions and “visit all options on how to legally protect the Local during this time.”

The email did not mention Jon Hendry, the business agent who is a defendant in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by former employee Christa Valdez, who alleges that he harassed her and tried to block her from seeking other employment after she was terminated. An amended version of the lawsuit filed Monday added another plaintiff, Madeleine Lauve, who claims Hendry subjected her to “discriminatory conditions, including an explicit quid pro quo for sex.” The amended filings name the local union chapter and the international organization as defendants in the lawsuit, and also accuses Hendry of racketeering.

Acton wrote in the email that “the staff . . . and I are handling the day-to-day business of the Local,” but it was unclear whether staff included Hendry.

U.S. Department of Labor records show Hendry reporting a salary of $133,360 in 2016 in his role as business agent.

Robert Giolito, the union’s attorney, declined to comment. Hendry and Local 480 officials have directed all requests for comment to Giolito. A spokeswoman with the international organization declined a request for comment.

The AFL-CIO confirmed this week that Hendry is no longer president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor. It did not respond to a question about whether he had been removed or whether he resigned. A spokeswoman referenced an internal IATSE investigation, which IATSE has not confirmed to the Journal.

The lawsuit against Hendry, a frequent visitor to the Legislature and a registered lobbyist, has shaken New Mexico’s political establishment, as well. On Tuesday, Richard Ellenberg, chairman of the state Democratic Party, abruptly resigned after questioning the credibility of Valdez’s claims against Hendry.

The Secretary of State’s office and the Legislative Council Service told the Journal their agencies are not aware of any complaints filed against Hendry in his role as a lobbyist.