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A message from Projectionists Union Local 160
by John A. Galinac Friday, Mar. 11, 2005 at 3:17 PM 216-621-7854 2900 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115

A reply to Jon Forman's Special Message in his SPROCKETS NEWSLETTER

A message from Projectionists Union Local 160 John A. Galinac Business Agent Thank you for allowing me to respond to the “Special Message” from Jon Forman, President of Cleveland Cinemas. After reading the “Special Message” you might conclude that Mr. Forman states a reasonable and sympathetic position and that it is unfortunate that the Projectionists Union refuses to accept the technological inevitability of being relegated to the fate of the dinosaurs. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is not about technology; this is about Mr. Forman’s greed and his willingness to sacrifice the Cleveland International Film Festival for his own narrow, selfish interests. I would like to respond to a few of the points in Mr. Forman’s message.

 The largest movie theater in the Greater Cleveland area is staffed 100% by union projectionists. Cinemark Theater in Valley View, with 24 screens, is the largest theater in this area and uses only union projectionists. Mr. Forman’s claim that union projectionists only remain at anachronistic, single screen theaters is simply a lie. Indeed, union projectionists are even employed at some of the theaters on his list of supposedly non-union theaters.

 The Cleveland International Film Festival has been put “at risk” by Jon Forman, not the Projectionists Union. The Film Festival has used only union projectionists for the last 28 years. In fact, last year when the Film Festival was having financial troubles, I personally requested and the Film Festival received a $10,000 grant from Paul Newman so that union projectionists could be used. This year, when the Film Festival applied to Cuyahoga County for a $15,000 grant, it expressly included funding for projectionists. It was Jon Forman who would not allow the Film Festival to continue to employ its own union projectionists and instead is requiring the Film Festival to use Mr. Forman’s non-union employees if the Film Festival wants to use the theaters Mr. Forman controls at Tower City. But for Mr. Forman’s intransigence, the Film Festival would have continued to use union projectionists as it has done for 28 years.

 Mr. Forman complained that the Union’s efforts to discourage patrons from coming to his theaters “may” have had an impact on his business, but he fails to mention the impact on the lives of union projectionists who he has systematically fired from their jobs at every single theater that is part of Mr. Forman’s growing empire. Those dedicated employees and their families have suffered from a loss of wages, health care, and contributions to their pension.

 The average wage of the dedicated union projectionists that used to work for Cleveland Cinemas was $15/hour. The projectionists have been replaced by lower-paid, so-called “managers” and “supervisors”. Although Mr. Forman’s Special Message talked about “upgrading” his operations, Mr. Forman has refused to hire any of his former projectionist employees into these lower-paid, upgraded positions. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board has issued a Complaint against Cleveland Cinema, and will be prosecuting them at a trial scheduled to start in June, over Cleveland Cinema’s refusal to even consider re-hiring union members into these “upgraded” positions.

 Finally, Jon Forman’s disdain for the Union and his own employees was best illustrated after one of his long-term employees died of a heart attack while at work, only hours after complaining to a fellow employee about his working conditions. When the Union tried to discuss health and safety issues with Mr. Forman, he stormed out of the meeting and refused to negotiate. I hope that these comments give you a better idea of what we have been up against. We ask for your support and understanding.

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Feature article additions Saturday, Mar. 12, 2005 at 1:51 AM
Union projectionist controversy on WVIZ, Sun., 3/13 David Friday, Mar. 11, 2005 at 11:04 PM
"Special Message" sprockets newsletter Friday, Mar. 11, 2005 at 5:22 PM
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