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Union will picket Orinda Theatre during film festival

By Jonathan Morales
Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 at 10:23 am in Orinda.

A representative for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 169 has told me his group plans to picket the Orinda Theatre during the California Independent Film Festival, which begins tomorrow.

The union has been picketing the theater since it changed ownership last May and the new owners opted not to retain two union-represented employees. The owners say they can’t afford to pay two full-time union salaries. The union argues that without union employees manning the projectors, the theater’s production quality diminishes.

Jason Mottley, business agent for Local 169, said the film festival organizers agreed to hire union employees for the event but the owners refused to let those employees into the theater. The goal of the picket is not to intimidate festival-goers, he said, but to make them aware the union is in a labor dispute with management.

Theater co-owner Jim Sheehan said he and his business partner, Tom Peterson, were willing to let the film festival hire union workers on the condition that they only be allowed into the booth if there was a mechanical problem and only with supervision. Sheehan said they were concerned about having people with which they are in a labor dispute working alone in the booth.

Film festival Program Director Beau Behan declined to comment on the projectionists union.

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