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News ::
Somerville: Projecting an Unsettled Labor Picture (english)
25 May 2003
Modified: 03 Jun 2003
Projectionists at the historic Somerville Theatre were outraged by what they decried as unsafe working conditions. Poor air quality, projectors precariously perched on cinderblocks, exposed wires, and hidden fire extinguishers, had made their behind-the-scenes work treacherous, workers alleged.
SOMERVILLE: PROJECTING AN UNSETTLED LABOR PICTURE

by Benjamin Gedan
Boston Sunday Globe [City Weekly section, May 25, 2003]

Projectionists at the historic Somerville Theatre were outraged by what they decried as unsafe working conditions. Poor air quality, projectors precariously perched on cinderblocks, exposed wires, and hidden fire extinguishers, had made their behind-the-scenes work treacherous, workers alleged.

From May 1 to May 6, they went on strike, taking to the streets and sidewalks of Davis Square. Now, almost three weeks later, the projectionists have added a demand to their long list of grievances: the right to return to work. Those who struck say they let management know they were ready to work again, but only projectionists who didn't strike have been offered hours.

"They have made it very clear that they're anti-union," said Mark Laskey, who has helped organize a campaign to unionize the projectionists. "We're trying to keep the pressure on."

The theater's general manager, Ian Judge, said the facility had never been fined for violating health or safety codes. He declined comment on whether the strikers were being barred from work. Melvin Fraiman, owner of the independently owned theater, did not return calls for comment.

The projectionists lobbying for a return to work have appealed to the federal National Labor Relations Board for intervention. Last Monday, workers filed an official complaint at an NLRB hearing in Boston, Laskey said.

The group has not reversed its pro-union position, announced to management on April 30. While efforts to end the alleged lock-out continue, the projectionists are still organizing weekend demonstrations, distributing flyers, and publishing an email newsletter.

Demands for higher wages, benefits, and fixed schedules also prompted the strike by four of the theater's seven projectionists. Laskey said those issues will loom large during a planned June 12 vote on whether to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Local 182.

"The only answer to our problem is escalation!" the group wrote in a recent mass email, which called for a boycott of the theater, or at least the popcorn and soda. So far, however, ticket sales remain steady and the labor dispute has not caused a single canceled movie or performance, Judge said. The five movie screens require only one projectionist each shift.

"Everything is pretty normal," Judge said last week. "You get negative comments from a few people, but for the most part, nobody cares."
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Normal? (english)
25 May 2003
Things certainly didn't look "normal" for business at the Somerville Theatre last night. I was planning on seeing a movie there until I came across your picket line, at which point I made alternative plans for the evening. I saw a number of other people also walk away from the ticket line out of respect for the projectionists. I would estimate they probably did less than half their normal business for a Saturday night. I know I will not be returning to this theater until they respect their workers right to organize.

Best of luck to the projectionists. Keep up the fight!
not return? (english)
25 May 2003
maybe you should return and help out at the picket line =)
the striking projectionists need our support.
Sabotage? (english)
28 May 2003
a whole shop full of anarchists in a labor dispute and no sabotage yet after a month? wtf?
Well... (english)
29 May 2003
Obviously, being the little angels that we are, have been on our best behavior. We don't want to give management any excuse to fire us before the upcoming union election (which they would love nothing more than legally be able to do).

Can't really say the same for our supporters. When we went out to flyer today it apeared that someone smashed in all of the windows of the ticket booth. Of course, for all we know, this could be another of management's dirty tricks to garner public sympathy for their poor struggle "independent" theater... which happens to be owned by a greedy millionaire!
greedy millionare (english)
03 Jun 2003
greedy millionare???? shut the fuck up. just because someone is sucessful does not mean they are greedy. the theatre is still independent. just because he has money doesnt mean he needs to support your lazy asses. if you dont like it, dont work there. would you rather work for showcase?
Blah, blah, blah... (english)
03 Jun 2003
Anyone who pays their workers minimum wage and charges exorbant rents from their tenants while they pocket millions from property speculation and the exploitation of people's labor is not only greedy, they are fucking assholes. Fuck him. Good luck kicking this guy's ass Somerville projectionists!