You are here

Chicago Projectionists take action

Negotiations between Local 110, Chicago Projectionists, and Cineplex/Odeon Theaters were initiated, with management making demands for rollbacks in wages and working conditions. Local 110 had previously enjoyed the highest wages and conditions of employment for projectionists in the IATSE.

Concurrent negotiations were underway with General Cinema and Loews Theaters, whose contracts had also expired.  These were separate negotiations but frequently conducted in the same room and at the same time as talks with Cineplex/Odeon.  During the course of the negotiations, Cineplex/Odeon locked out the Local 110 projectionists, and replaced them with imported nonunion personnel.  General Cinema and Loews did not follow this move.  Instead, they obtained a “favored nations” clause which would give them the benefits of conditions eventually arrived at with Cineplex.

Local 110 projectionists continued to work for these two chains while negotiations went on.  A picket line was established by Local 110 at the Cineplex theaters, resulting in loss of business to the company.

On November 10, 1992, International President Di Tolla received a letter from Local 110 requesting assistance in the negotiations and support from the General Defense Fund. He assigned International Representative Walter Blanchard to assist Local 110 in its efforts.

A meeting was held in Toronto by President Di Tolla and International Representative Blanchard with Allen Karp, President and CEO of Cineplex/Odeon.  Karp explained the Cineplex’s financial picture, stating the company didn’t want to become nonunion but had to reduce the operating costs drastically to survive.

There had been across-the-board, major reductions in the management and administrative staff of Cineplex, including a loss of more than 100 employees in the corporate office alone. This same policy - staff reductions - necessitated the demands made by Cineplex in the Chicago area.

Karp and President Di Tolla agreed to send the negotiators back to the table to try to find an accommodation that would be the least onerous to Local 110 members.  Arduous negotiations followed, and finally a proposal was achieved and ratified by Local 110 members in February, 1993.  This final proposal ensured that the least number of Local 110 members would be displaced.

This contract could not have been ratified without a majority of the members who would be the ones actually displaced knowingly voting for the contract to save the remaining jobs for their brothers and sisters.  Their action was courageous and commendable.  It is important to note that the contract that resulted still exceeds terms and conditions of any other projection contract in the United States.