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News ::
Somerville Projectionists Strike: Report From The Frontlines (english)
02 May 2003
Modified: 04 May 2003
May 1st marked the first day of the projectionist strike at the Somerville Theater in Davis Sq., after management refused voluntary union recognition of workers from IATSE Local 182, who are organizing to demand better pay (most make minimum wage), health coverage, a healthier work environment, and a more democratic workplace.
Somerville Projectionists Strike:
Report from the Frontlines

By pissed off projectionist (IATSE Local 182)

May 1st marked the first day of the projectionist strike at the Somerville Theater in Davis Sq., after management refused voluntary union recognition of workers from IATSE Local 182, who are organizing to demand better pay (most make minimum wage), health coverage, a healthier work environment, and a more democratic workplace.

A picket line was organized for 6pm in front of theater, which attracted the support of around 70-80 people at its strongest. While this was taking place, the Independent Film Festival (http://www.ifsboston.org) which was set to take place at the theater went on as scheduled, as organizers disregarded the picket line and used scab projectionists to show their films.

As the picket line grew, police from both Somerville and Medford, as well as State Troopers, came out in force with at least a dozen cruisers blocking up the center of Davis Sq. On at least two occasions, police attacked the picket line, touching off scuffles that resulted in a few injuries (one person was said to have been taken to the hospital). These incidents were unprovoked, and seemed to target individuals thought to be “leaders” of the strike (i.e. people with the megaphone). Shoving erupted between the two sides, with aggressive police throwing fists and using choke and pain-compliance holds to subdue angry demonstrators. The situation eventually de-escalated and no arrests reported.

At around 9pm the picket line began to wind down, with promises of an even stronger picket scheduled for today (starting at 5pm). Overall the days events can be considered a resounding success. Despite repeated police provocation, we managed to maintain the integrity of our picket line. Over a thousand leaflets explaining the strike and soliciting support were distributed. Dozens of people respected our strike and refused to cross the picket line, as well as dozens more coming up to express their support.

A very special thanks goes out to Boston’s anarchist, activist and radical labor communities who came out to stand with us in solidarity!

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
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Comments

IFFB flier (english)
03 May 2003
The Independent Film Festival put out a flier maligning the strikers saying, basically:

1) We did not know about the strike beforehand.

2) No one came to talk to us.

3) The strikers refused our offer to negotiate.

4) We are pro-union.

5) The strikers staged their strike on this date for publicity.

6) The strike has no economic impact because we paid the Somerville Theater beforehand.

Comments from the strikers?
Comment from the Strikers (english)
04 May 2003
Let's be clear. Our battle is with our boss, not with the IFF. However, we feel you behaved yourselves deplorably throughout this whole ordeal, and we look forward to you leaving our community when you festival in finished.

You have refused to honor our picket, you have brought in scab labor, you have publicly denounced us, and you spread disinformation about our strike.

We never came to talk to you? Why should the exploited, minimum wage workers of this theater seek you out to talk? We learned about this festival less then two weeks prior to it taking place. We learned we would be working three times as much for your festival at the same shit pay we always make. You chose to hold your event at a non-union theater, you suffer the consequences!

You are not "pro-union" so stopped kidding yourselves. You blame minimum wage workers for a situation that could have easily been avoided had the management of the Somerville Theater signed one simple document recognizing our union.

If you were pro-union, you would place the blame squarely at the feet of management and put pressure on them to meet our demands. If you were pro-union, you would not have organized a festival at a non-union theater, where workers make minimum wage, have no benefits and are trapped in stifiling hot projection room with poor ventilation each workday. If you were pro-union, you would respect our strike, and not bring in scab labor to undermine our struggle. If you were pro-union, you wouldn't have IFF volunteers out front telling people to "Support the Arts, Not The Unions".

We do not care about a so-called independent film festival that tries to undermine the ability of minimum wage workers to struggle for dignity, a livable wage, and a healthier workplace. We hope the event was a resounding failure, and we will be glad when you pack up and leave Somerville.