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News ::
Somerville Projectionists Rally (6/13) Report (english)
14 Jun 2003
Modified: 17 Jun 2003
Despite the miserable weather this was by far the largest crowd we have brought out since the first day we went on strike for recogntion (May 1). Easily 70-80 people. Speakers included one of the locked-out projectionists, as well as representatives from IATSE, SEIU, UE, CWA, IWW, AFA, Jobs With Justice, Student Labor Action Project, the Boston Central Labor Council, and various city councilors and state representatives.
Somerville Projectionists Rally 6/13
by Rheostat Rebellion

Despite the miserable weather this was by far the largest crowd we have brought out since the first day we went on strike for recogntion (May 1). Easily 70-80 people. Speakers included one of the locked-out projectionists, as well as representatives from IATSE, SEIU, UE, CWA, IWW, AFA, Jobs With Justice, Student Labor Action Project, the Boston Central Labor Council, and various city councilors and state representatives.

Pat Jaylan, a state representative, presented a packet of information sent to her by Mel Fraiman's lawyer, accusing some of the locked-out projectionists of being "dangerous anarchists". She made it clear that such red-baiting tactics were intolerable, and regardless of the politics held by any of the projectionists, every worker in Somerville was entitled to the right to organize in their workplace, join a labor union, and earn a living wage.

A fellow worker from the CWA spoke in support of the Somerville Projectionists, and also alerted people of potential strike actions later this summer among Verizon workers as contracts come up for renewal.

A member of SEIU who was centrally involved in the recent "Justice for Janitors" campaign also extended his solidarity to the locked-out projectionists and called on people to continue to boycott the Somerville and Arlington Theatres.

Russ Davis, of Jobs With Justice, promised continued support for the projectionists from his organization and passed out pledge cards for people to sign-up and commit to future support for labor struggles in the city of Boston.

Geoff Downs, a locked-out projectionist, spoke on the background and current status of the struggle for union regonition at the Somerville Theatre, how young and exploited workers need to organize and fight back, and finished by thanking everyone for their continued support [see speech below].

Rodney Ward, a laid-off flight attendant and member of AFA, compared the struggle among flight attendants since 9/11 to that of the projectionists, and extended full solidarity for their campaign.

Jon Bekken, of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), recounted the treatment members of his union received at the hands of the Somerville Police when the projectionists first went out on strike (one member was hospitalized, and another thrown into oncoming traffic). He finished by stating workers need to fight their own battles and not rely on union buearucrats or politicians, and promising continued support for the projectionists until their union is recognized.

Following the speeches, a loud and lively picket line was set up in front of the theater itself in an effort to persuade the evening theater patrons to respect the active boycott on the theater until the union was recognized by Mel Fraiman. Although there was limited success in turning people away (it was a special event - featuring Stephen Colbert, of the Daily Show - and most people had already purchased tickets), the message was sent loud and clear to Mel Fraiman:


If you have not yet called the management of the Somerville Theatre to let them know how you feel about their refusal to recognize the projectionists union and continuing union-busting tactics we strongly encourage you to do so:

Mel Fraiman (owner) - Phone: (617) 484-6947 Car Phone: (617) 460-6909 Personal Fax: (617) 484-5823, FEI office - (781) 648-6022

If you cannot reach Mel on his personal phone, please try his real estate
office Chatham Light/Dunster Realty - Phone (617) 354-4466 Fax (617) 354-5299

Ian Judge (general manager) - Somerville Theatre Phone: (617) 625-4088 Direct
to manager phone: (617) 625-0261 Fax: (617) 625-5496 or
ijudge (at)

You can also write a letter on our behalf:

Mel Fraiman (residence): 48 Village Hill Road, Belmont, MA 02478

Fraiman Enterprises Inc./Chatham Light Realty/Dunster Realty: 15 Story St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

Email the public liason for the Somerville Theater:
Sherri Belski: sbelski (at)


Delivered by Geoff Downs, Somerville Projectionist

Hello Everyone,

Thanks for coming out here in the rain and cold to show your support. My name's Geoff, and I'm one of the projectionists here at the Somerville Theatre. I just want to know, are any of you out there as angry as I am about getting paid poverty wages? Oh, really... well are any of you out there as angry as I am about not being offered health care? Okay, well you sound annoyed at least, but you know what probably makes us all angriest? Union busting. Am I right? Come on now, I want Mel to hear us all the way over in Belmont. Are you not enraged by union busting?

Ok, well I'm not sure you all are as angry as I am, but maybe that's because I've been working at the Somerville Theatre for over a year now and I still get paid practically nothing. In fact, I've worked as a projectionist for most of the past six years, since I was sixteen. Last summer I was putting in lots of overtime here at the theater, working up to 60-hours some weeks. Of course, half of what I made each month still went to rent, but I was managing to get by... sort of. Then the owner of the theater decided that overtime pay was too much, and that my hours needed to get cut, so they were and there was nothing I could do about it.

Ya know, some people have asked us why we don't just get another job somewhere else that pays better. Personally, I am tired of running from one shit job to the next. The answer isn't to run away, but to stand firm where you are and fight for what you deserve, and never concede and inch to the bosses. Many months ago the projectionists decided that we were done getting pushed around by half-witted managers and blood-sucking bosses, getting paid minimum wage and working in an unhealthy environment. We decided to organize and do something about it.

We decided to join the union and collectively fight for better wages, healthier work conditions, benefits, and a more democratic workplace. We don't think this is too much to ask from a man who's personal assets are worth over $10 million, a man who doubles as a greedy landlord and real estate speculator - I'm speaking, of course, of Mel Fraiman.

In the past, Mel has gone to great lengths to keep the union out of his theaters. In 1997, he closed the Somerville Theatre for several months and threatened to keep it closed, just so he could drive out the union workers. This time around, he has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars (money in which he could be paying his workers with) on lost business costs, legal fees, police details, and, well, other expenses...

Well, we got news for ya Mel. The union is coming in here whether you like it or not, and we're not backing down. On behalf of young workers everywhere, who are angry and underpaid, we intend to win this fight. We'd like to see everyone who feels screwed over - and even those who don't - to go back to their job and start organizing there. It's all one struggle, it's all one fight... and besides, we'd like to come support all of you for a change.

Somerville is still a strong working class community and the support we have gotten on the picket line has been overwhelming. Special thanks to all the community and labor organizations who have continued to support us, like Jobs With Justice, SEIU, UE, CWA, the Teamsters, the IWW, SLAP, and above all, our union IATSE.

Alright, let's win this thing!
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People crossing the picket for Steph. Colbert (english)
17 Jun 2003
Did anyone know about the Stephen Colbert event ahead of time and/or try to talk to him about the strike and the picket line?
We Our Best... (english)
17 Jun 2003
We contact the publicist for the 'Wigfield' event weeks in advance. We tried to contact each of the individual performers, but could not find an email or phone number. We did however also contact Brookline Booksmith, who was sponsoring a booksigning at the Somerville Theatre that night. No one ever responded.

Stephen Colbert himself made a snide remark towards us as he passed by our picket, something about promising not to project anything while he is at the theater (said with a real condesending tone). Gee, thanks for the support Mr. Colbert.

As a big fan of The Daily Show, I have to say this experience left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.
Ooops... (english)
17 Jun 2003
The title for that last comment should have read "We Tried Our Best..."