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(en) Somerville Theater Projectionists Attacked on Picket Line

From Jon Bekken <jbekken@suffolk.edu>
Date Fri, 2 May 2003 18:22:15 +0200 (CEST)


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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filmmaker, asking that the film be withdrawn from the festival as Frank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@yahoo.com


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