Joseph A. Aredas:
The Honorable Arbiter
by Patrick Gregston
portrait by Wm. Stetz
If asked about his career, Joseph A. Aredas will tell you it was not very interesting; “not exciting,” he shrugs. And when queried about the steps that built his resume, which led to his becoming head of the West Coast IATSE office, his eyebrows and palms rise as his shoulders slump, and he says, “I didn’t plan it.” As if that somehow makes it less remarkable…
But scratch a bit, dig a little deeper, and a far more textured and rich story emerges. Aredas’ first industry job was as a cinetechnician, designing and fabricating camera and editorial equipment as a member of IATSE Local 789 (which eventually merged into Local 695, the Sound Technicians, part of which was later ceded over to Local 683, the Laboratory Film/Video Technicians and Cinetechnicians) at the MGM machine shop in April 1967. Laid off after seven months, he was brought almost immediately into Consolidated Film Industries (CFI) to be the first person of
color in the machine shop. Hollywood was freshly under court-ordered (but industry-resented) racial discrimination adjustment, and the city was still rebuilding after the Watts riots, with white flight to the suburbs, war protests and the Summer of Love all part of the circumstances — a somewhat less than ideal circumstance for Aredas to be the new guy.
Unlike the ubiquitous coffee-order-qualifying ritual of today, the new machinist — after a few simple assignments — was tasked with creating a complex, close-tolerance densitometer piece. He used calculations to establish the specification
and parameters required before he committed to cutting any metal, and when he presented the part, his supervisor was dubious. “‘How do you know this is right?’ he asked me,” Aredas recalls with a tilt to his head and a bit of a smile in his eyes. “I told him I knew. He asked me again, and I said, ‘I just know.’” When the doubting supervisor tested the part, it performed flawlessly.
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