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(en) Victory for Somerville Projectionists*!!

From Angry Projectionists <pissed_off_projectionists@yahoo.com>
Date Tue, 29 Jul 2003 10:06:44 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

'Pissed Off Projectionists' Declare Victory Over
Somerville Theatre

After having been locked-out for over ten weeks,
projectionists at the Somerville Theatre have emerged
victorious in their struggle for union recognition.
The management has agreed to voluntarily recognize the
union, sign a fair contract, and pay full back wages
to all locked-out employees. Although this was a
modest struggle in and of itself, we see it as a
significant victory for young, exploited and pissed
off workers everywhere.


At the time we struck for union recognition,
projectionists were paid minimum wage ($6.75/hr), were
not offered benefits, and worked in an unhealthy and
undemocratic environment. Under the current two-year
contract, the starting wage for projectionists is now
in accordance with (and fixed to) the Somerville
Living Wage Ordinance (currently $9.55/hr), which is a
40% increase; all full-time employees will be offered
health benefits and vacation; and most importantly,
the Somerville Theatre is now a 'union shop' for
projectionists, which allows for more control over the
work environment by the workers themselves and
preference for hiring new employees in the hands of
the union.

Although this was a clear victory, it was a victory
that came at a price. It became clear during the
lock-out that the management of the Somerville Theatre
did not want some of us to return to work specifically
because of our political beliefs. Rather than further
stall the contract negotiations, we agreed to
voluntarily step aside and be replaced by other union
projectionists in order to ensure a speedy resolution
that would benefit all. In exchange we will have the
opportunity to work in other Boston-area theaters
where projectionists are organized through IATSE.


We hope that our struggle is an inspiration to other
workers, particularly younger workers just beginning
to understand their exploitation at the hands of their
bosses. Our struggle was won primarily through direct
action and community pressure. Although we did indeed
file for an election with the National Labor Relations
Board, from the beginning of our campaign we had no
faith in State-mediation. We felt that the whole NLRB
process played into the hands of the bosses and
government bureaucrats, and effectively removed the
class struggle from off the streets and out of the
hands of the workers and confined it to the court
rooms of the State.

In the end it was not through the NLRB that we gained
union recognition, but through a sustained campaign of
public pressure and direct action. We were successful
in utilizing tactics and strategies such as economic
strikes, informational pickets, and publicity
campaigns while simultaneously relying on the pressure
from the community (in the form of boycotts, rallies,
and phone actions) to win this struggle. We think we
were successful in proving that, as workers, our
greatest strengths are in the refusal of our labor and
our ability to organize effective resistance that goes
beyond the workplace and into the community.


Absolutely! Through out the dispute at the Somerville
Theatre, there have been attempts by Mel’s lawyer to
'red bait' certain projectionists by publicizing the
fact that some of us are anarchists. Well, as one
trade unionist who walked our picket line a few times
eloquently stated: "Every workplace could use a few
anarchists to ensure the boss takes a good ass-kicking
every now and then." We couldn't agree more. Politics
aside, the fact of the matter was that we were being
exploited by a wealthy boss, and no amount of 'red
baiting' changed this fact in most people's eyes. As
for the actual politics in question, those of us who
do identify as anarchists have been up front about it
and have no problem defending out beliefs. We would
like to see a society in which the needs of people are
valued over profits, and exploitative bosses are a
thing of the past. However, we are not hopeless
dreamers. We recognize we are a far way off from this
sort of society, and in the meantime we need build
power in our communities and workplaces and work
towards class victories that directly benefit people's


One of the most inspiring aspects of this struggle has
been the wide support we have received from trade
unionists, activist groups and members of the
surrounding community. Thanks to fellow unionists from
Greater Boston Central Labor Council, and our own
union IATSE; also activist groups such as NEFAC,
BAAM!, Jobs With Justice, Somerville Greens, and the
Student Labor Action Project; and lastly, a very
special thanks goes out to all the Somerville
residents who supported us, everyone who made a phone
call (or ten) on our behalf, and anyone else who may
have helped our campaign that we forgot to mention.


The struggle at the Somerville Theatre may have come
to a close, but there are other labor disputes heating
up around the city. At this moment, the union
contracts covering thousands of Boston-area workers at
Verizon are set to expire. Up to this point
negotiations have been unsuccessful and the
possibility for an East Coast strike is very likely.
We hope that everyone who has supported us though out
our struggle will also support this important strike
if it does occur, and defend workers' right to job
security and health benefits. Further information on
the impending Verizon strike can be found at:

Solidarity is our greatest weapon for a better future!

In Struggle,
Pissed Off Projectionists

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