Aurelia River has worked six years at the Shattuck Cinema in downtown Berkeley, with a 50-cent increase in salary during that time, going from $6.75 to $7.25 an hour for almost full-time work. She earns no benefits.
Demanding decent wages and working conditions, River and 22 of her 28 co-workers filled out cards Monday morning, beginning the process of petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for a union.
The Shattuck Cinema is owned by Landmark Theatres, which did not return Daily Planet calls.
“We’re really asking for dignity and respect, the respect that comes with fair treatment,” said Harjit Singh Gill, branch organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World. Among the demands are fair wages and a grievance procedure, Gill said.
The workers would like management to count the workers’ petition as votes and institute a union, Gill said, explaining that going through the NLRB is often an arduous process. Management often delays the process, including firing union supporters and diluting the effort to unionize, he said.
Just one other Landmarks Theater in Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA, is unionized, Gill said.
“We’re only asking for work conditions that are reasonable and humane,” said cinema employee Lauren Grady in a press statement. “Management needs to start listening to our concerns and valuing its workers.”
Gill said the union is not calling for a boycott of the theater, but “if the company were to actually fight the union campaign, we’d have an issue,” he said.›