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News ::
Somerville Theater Projectionists Attacked on Picket Line (english)
02 May 2003
Modified: 15 Jun 2003
When Somerville Theater projectionists approached their manager to demand union recognition, he told them it had been nice knowing them. The projectionists had been attempting for months to resolve low pay and unhealthy working conditions before joining the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE, which represents projectionists in most Boston cinemas) and demanding recognition April 30. When management informed IATSE officials that they refused to recognize the union May 1, the projectionists set up picket lines
The striking projectionists were joined on the picket line by an IATSE
representative, by members of other local unions including AFSCME and the IWW, and by dozens of community supporters. At its peak, the sidewalk in front of the theater was lined with 50 pickets chanting "Recognize the union, or the show will not go on."

After an hour of peaceful picketing, more than a dozen Somerville and
Medford police arrived on the scene, complete with a paddy wagon which
they parked in front of the theater entrance. Police proceeded to mount several assaults on the picketline, knocking several picketing workers to the ground, throwing one into oncoming traffic on the adjacent street, and hitting others with clubs. A member of the IWW was taken to hospital coughing up blood after he was attacked and choked by police. For several minutes as films were scheduled to begin, police forcibly prevented any picketing in front of the theater.

While the projectionists were picketing outside, films were shown inside by a scab projectionist force lined up by the so-called Boston Independent Film Festival and secretly trained on the Somerville Theater equipment in the days leading up to workers' demand for union recognition.

Picketing continues on a daily basis outside the Somerville Theater,
beginning at 5 p.m. Several members of the Industrial Workers of the
World will join the picketline Saturday, May 3, to protest the scheduled screening of "An Injury To All," a documentary about IWW General Executive Board member and organizer Frank Little, who was lynched by the copper bosses during a strike in Butte, Montana. The IWW has written the filmmaker, asking that the film be withdrawn from the festival as Frank Little would never have crossed a picket line.

The striking projectionists can be contacted at
Pissed_Off_Projectionists (at) yahoo.com
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What you can do to support our struggle... (english)
02 May 2003
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT STRIKING PROJECTIONISTS

if anyone has a minute today and wants to help out please call the following numbers and demand union recognition for the striking projectionists:

Somerville Theater (ask to speak to Ian Judge, or the manager on duty): Phone: (617) 625-4088 Direct to manager phone: (617) 625-0261 Fax: (617) 625-5496

Call Melvin Fraiman at one of his many other phone lines: Car Phone: (617) 460-6909 Personal Fax: (617) 484-5823
jesus h. marimba (english)
02 May 2003
Anyone provide more details on the police behavior? Is it known who called them, was anyone charged with anything/arrested, was there any provocation, is this actually the year 1920?
Good news... (english)
02 May 2003
Good news... Travis Wilkerson, the director of "An Injury To One" has agreed to pull his film from the so-called Independent Film Festival.

Also, UPS has honored our picket line and has refused further deliveries of films to the Somerville Theater until this dispute is settled.
Minor correction (english)
02 May 2003
That's awesome news. One quick note, though--UPS did not honor your picket line. The Teamsters at UPS honored it. I know that's what you meant, but good to clarify it.
Sorry... (english)
02 May 2003
Of course, thanks for correcting me.

Working on little sleep, and on my way out the door for my picket shift. Not so good with the details right now.

Yeah Teamsters!
Cop Update (english)
02 May 2003
Just a few updates:

The "IWW Member" who was sent to the hospital choking up blood is fine now. He will have a nasty bruise, but no long term damage.

Also, after the police confrontation, I attempted to get the badge numbers of the pigs involved. I took pictures (which I will post soon) and asked for badge numbers. Some cops gave them, but several refused calling me a "fag" and a "commie" and various other favorite cop phrases. I approached the officer in command, cited the Massachusetts law that requires officers to display their badge numbers, and demanded to know the badge number of the officer who had choked the "IWW member". He told me to get lost.

We'll see what we have when I get my pictures.

Solidarity,
Sturdy Squirrel
See also:
http://pgan.apan.org
centrist has opinion (english)
04 May 2003
Modified: 21 May 2003
John Scoville wrote a book called Labor Monoloplies or Freedom? in '46. Look it up, i know it is at libraries--if you really care about these things.

IMHO The Police acted out of turn; that almost seems as if they wee provgoked. they could have been provoked by the lobor side deciding to strike at the time of ma xvisibility for the local film management.

That's like going for the jugular in a way, and although i know the workers involved didn't look at it that way i would scarcely blame them for it.

this is simply a case of unions and labor needing skilled arbitrators; and also why the wobblies have outgrown socialism in all but final action. I know from experience that the presnece of socialists tends to widen class gaps rather than heal or bridge them; i daresay that the presnece of socialists is toxic for any group attempting to assert civil liberties. the beatdown was wrong though; it just sounds weird like the grapes of wrath.
Response to Bongo (english)
04 May 2003
It seems to me that the best time to go on strike is when it will have the greatest impact. If the projectionists waited to find a time that was more convenient ammenable for the Sommerville Theatre management, don't you think that would be a tad self-defeating? Sorta like Santa's reindeer staging a walk-out on Dec 26th.

And I am very offended by your comment that the police were "a tad" out of line, but must have been provoked by the inconvenience that management had suffered by the picketing. What a bunch of crybaby socialist bastards those projectionists must be! "I want a living wage! I want a safe working environment! I want health insurance! Waah, wahh, wahh!"
corrupt cops (english)
05 May 2003
You wanna know what provoked the police? The few hundred dollars that the manager probably slipped them to get us out of there. The cops are corrupt--deal with it.
See also:
http://pgan.apan.org
Where is your accuracy? (english)
24 May 2003
Modified: 15 Jun 2003
I find your depiction of this strike disgraceful, in its innaccuracy and its outright lies. Being a great lover of Davis Square, and hence a person there more than your picketers are, I would like to point out to you folks at this sight a few of the erroneous statemnts made in this following article.

"While the projectionists were picketing outside, films were shown inside by a scab projectionist force lined up by the so-called Boston Independent Film Festival and secretly trained on the Somerville Theater equipment in the days leading up to workers' demand for union recognition."

The following is the most outrageous and outright lie this article put forth. It is almost slanderous in its content. There was no hint of a scab projectionist inside the theater during the festival; There were no scab projectionists existent the entire weekend. There were two projectionists who were hired by the festival long before the entire situation even happened (both of which have worked alongside IATSE in the past and will in the future) and one house projectionist who was never asked to join the strike in the first place. One other projectionist who had signed a representation letter but did not agree to strike did work that weekend as well.
And to be very accurate, many of the men and women who ran the Independant Film Festival are in fact full members of IATSE locals, and were never given any indication that there was any kind of payrate or contract dispute happening at this theater until the very moment they showed up for work that day. The heads of their particular chapters never even once ever told them not to show up for work, or ever told them once to walk out, because no IATSE union was ever notified of this situation before these three part-time and unliscensed "projectionists" decided to make it an issue.
As far as management training scabs days before the strike happened; considering that these strikers only informed the management that they were even talking about unionising, let alone striking, less than twelve hours before picket lines started, training scabs to take their place is not only improbable but does not stand up to any standard of empirical evidence seen on the face of the Earth. The whole idea of striking at the point in time when the strike started was based in taking advantage of the theater's weakness, when this festival was just about to happen. Which means nobody but those who were already committed to the picket the next day knew what was to unfold.
Unless you were to assume that mangement could have found enough of these hypothetical scabs and shown them how to work these complex machines in enough time to be at call in twelve hours, these accusations are ludicrous to the point of being almost the worst kind of science fiction. Working a projection machine is not exactly a lost science, but it would certainly take a little practice before application, before it could be done with any confidence.

"After an hour of peaceful picketing, more than a dozen Somerville and Medford police arrived on the scene, complete with a paddy wagon which they parked in front of the theater entrance. Police proceeded to mount several assaults on the picketline, knocking several picketing workers to the ground, throwing one into oncoming traffic on the adjacent street, and hitting others with clubs. A member of the IWW was taken to hospital coughing up blood after he was attacked and choked by police. For several minutes as films were scheduled to begin, police forcibly prevented any picketing in front of the theater."

I cannot speak too directly for the actions of the police here. I witnessed this from the corner, and all I can say is that it seemed like a fairly even give and take situation from there. Granted, the cops did have clubs, and were much more trained in physical combat than the picketers, but the picketers did definitely look like they were picking fights with men with clubs, which is essentially imbelcilic in its own right, in all fairness. So in essence, both sides seemed pretty ugly. Of course, when the police are ugly its resisting arrest, and when the picketers are ugly its assault, but you'll forgive me if I did not get close enough to this whole mess to see it from the proverbial bird's eye view. There was one kid who seemed to be taking pictures. Don't know who that was, but I thought he was a leader of some kind. I thought I saw him instigating things earlier, and I thought he was a leader of some kind, but then when things started to go south he was just hanging out taking photos for some reason, like this was what he was waiting for. It was almost like he was some kind of cynical ambulance chaser.
But back to the point; I will not defend the police, I will not say they were all straight in this. It's not my call, because I was not there to see it all, so something may have gone on that I did not see. If some kid got hurt in the stupid fraca out front, I hope he's doing well. But I will not say or assume who's fault that is. I've been in too many scrapes of too many kinds myself to just assume who won is who's at fault.
The world needs real news sources not beholden to FOX or CNN or any of the other depressing conglomerates out there, some place to go for a fresh look at things, locally or otherwise. But when you publish without discernment things like this whole situation without looking into the situation even the slightest bit it discredits whatever you will say about other things, because anyone who has looked at this whole Somerville Theater situation will find no relation to the way you have reported it to its own reality.
So all I ask of you is that you try at least a little to inedependently verify what you report here. Because its not the political slant that will kill you; it's the irresponsible verification of it, in the end.
It's a sad day when... (english)
15 Jun 2003
It's a sad day when union members will cross a picket line made by their own union. Jonathan Richman cancelled his concert to avoid crossing a picket line, but the "pro-union" IFF doesn't think twice about crossing a picket line.

Ok, first of all, anyone that crosses a picket line to perform the job of striking workers is a scab. Therefore, anyone who worked as a projectionist during the film festival was scabbing on the projectionists who struck. The two projectionists hired by the film festival were scabbing on their fellow projectionists. Those who did not strike were scabbing on their fellow projectionists.

If what you say about folk from the film festival being members of iatse is true, then that's pretty fucking sad that they priorities are so out of whack that they would cross their own union's picket line. I'm sure that their contract, like most contracts, has an out for labor disputes. And what the hell is up with choosing 3 non-union theatre?

To clarify, all 4 (not 3) of the projectionists that went on strike are liscenced. The workers who did not go on strike were not liscenced. Therefore, the IFF had unliscenced projectionists working during its festiva. The theatre was temporarily shut down about a week and a half ago, because an inspector came by and found that none of the scabs were liscenced. It's now public record.

The four projectionists that struck wer working an average of 25 hours per week. They all would have liked to work more, but Mel Fraiman doesn't want full time employees. One of the projectionists who struck used to work overtime, but Mel instructed the manager to cut his hours and hire more projectionists in order to make him part-time.

The management didn't have to find scabs for the festival, because the IFF was more than willing to provide free "scabs".
the scab (english)
15 Jun 2003
The Scab

After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.

A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.

No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commision in the british army. The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.

Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a scab is a traitor to his family and his class.

Author --- Jack London (1876-1916)