Twelve demonstrators from the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, Motion Picture Machine Operators picketed the Harvard Square Theater for 30 minutes Friday night, carrying signs reading, "This theater does not employ union operators."
Nat Stillman, assistant steward of the unions local 182, said this weekend the theater was chosen as the target of picketing because it was unionized until Anthony Mauriello, who also runs Cinema 733 in Boston, assumed management of the theater in May.
John Newby, who is also an assistant steward in the local, carefully characterized the picket line as "informal, not organizational. We're not saying the employees should hold an election tomorrow, but we need the public support."
Stillman said yesterday that "We are not accosting anyone--it will all be on the literature and on the placards. We are asking people not to buy tickets to the theater."
Mauriello said Friday the picketing "took me by surprise," but that he didn't want "to make the situation bigger than it is."
The Bottom Line
While Mauriello was relunctant to specify his reasons for not hiring union labor at the theater, he added, "The exigency of providing quality entertainment at low prices to the Cambridge community is that I pay close attention to my cost structure."
The union plans to extend the pickets to other non-union theaters in the Boston area, Stillman said, but when or where the pickets will be set up has not yet been determined.
There are currently 39 union and 31 non-union theaters in the Boston area. In the Harvard Square area, employees at the Galeria, the Brattle Theatre, and the Harvard Square Theater are not unionized, while those at the Orson Welles Cinema and Central Cinema are.
Newby said the union intends to continue picketing the theater "on busy nights and weekends, depending on how many members we can get out."
Stillman said yesterday he believes the presence of the union in the theater is important because it guarantees the payment of union scale wages and also the right of the employees to bargain collectively.