NEW YORK — When the IFC Center, a new state-of-the-art cinema built on the site of the Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village by IFC and parent Cablevision, opened its doors for a gala Thursday night in Gotham, the facility also hosted some unwelcome guests in the form of picketers from IATSE Local 306.
According to an IATSE business rep in Gotham, the picketers were on hand to protest IFC’s use of non-union projectionists at the facility. The old Waverly had, according to IATSE, two union projectionists on site.
“The new owners have refused to bargain, negotiate or even acknowledge the local,” IATSE rep Mim Pollack told Daily Variety on Friday. “We used to have two union projectionists employed there. (IFC) has refused to answer our phone calls or letters, so we wanted to bring some attention to this.”
The gathering of picketers, numbering up to about 15, stood quietly by the far end of a red carpet, skipping any chanting in favor of passing out flyers.
Flyers read in part, “Filmmakers — how will your film be shown? Will it be worthy of your artistic efforts?”
The flyer went on to read, “(IFC) has refused to meet with us to negotiate a contract after pledging to be good neighbors here in the Greenwich Village community. They have violated that pledge by tarnishing the century-old working principle of this neighborhood.”
An IFC spokesperson declined comment on the matter.
According to Local 306 prexy Michael Goucher, rival downtown arthouses — including the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, Film Forum and the Angelika Film Center — all house union projectionists.
“We intend to exercise every possible pressure we can,” said Goucher of IATSE’s intentions. “We want to reach out to the filmmakers themselves. If independent filmmakers won’t deal with them, they may have issues. In this political climate, we can’t hope a picket line will change minds and hearts.”
The center is slated to host a June 17 preem of IFC Films’ “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” by Miranda July, to publicly open the facility.