Hollywood’s awards season may have an awkward component, thanks to a dispute over projectionists’ pay at the Hollywood Arclight.
Attendees at Wednesday’s premiere of Roadside Attractions’ “The Skeleton Twins,” starring Kristen Wigg and Bill Hader, will be met with flyers and pickets organized by Local 33 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
“The dispute concerns the simple fact that the projectionists working at this trendy theater make less than $13.00 per hour and have no benefits,” said Robert Cantore, attorney for the local in a memo sent this week to Hollywood studios.
“Although Local 33 fully appreciates that your company is a third-party neutral in this dispute, you must appreciate that any economic actions taken by Local 33 will be specifically designed to have the greatest economic effect and/or adverse publicity on the theater,” Cantore said. “And what better time for that than at a Hollywood premiere, when the press is most likely to be attending.”
Cantore’s missive warned that the picketers may show up at a premiere or other private screening at the Hollywood ArcLight or any other Pacific Theater (including at the Grove) this year. He said that the picketers may also bring a giant inflatable rat.
Jenny Peters, a spokeswoman for Pacific Theaters, told Variety that the chain had no comment. Roadside Attractions did not respond to a request for comment.
Cantore explained that the contract covering the nine projectionists at the Arclight was absorbed into Local 33 two years ago. The contract has no healthcare or pension benefits and its $12.73 hourly rate is far below the salary for other venues covered by the local — such as the $45 an hour paid for work at the Directors Guild of America’s theater.
One of the handbills — titled “Now Does this Seem Fair” — to be distributed compares the projectionists’ wage rates and the lack of benefits with the $12.6 million in real estate assets of Christopher S. Forman, the president and CEO of parent Decurion Corp.
“Christopher S. Forman made his money the old-fashioned way: he inherited it,” the flyer notes.
Cantore told Variety that recent contract talks, in which the local had proposed a $17 hourly wage to the chain, had been unproductive.