The film projectionists union, IATSE Local 169 picketed the Alameda Theatre again today, this time drawing supporters from as far away as New York City. The union is asking theatre operator Alameda Entertainment Associates, run by Kyle Conner, to begin negotiations on a contract that would bring union members into the projection rooms. The City of Alameda, using redevelopment funds, heavily subsidized the renovation of the historic Alameda Theatre, and construction of the attached cineplex and parking garage.
The protest today drew Stephanie Basile, of New York City, an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World to the Alameda Theatre to show support for the local. Ms. Basile is in the Bay area on other business and when she heard about the Alameda Theatre protest, she came over to Alameda from San Francisco.
Union members say that without trained union operators running and maintaining the projection equipment, movie patrons will be subjected to scratched or damaged prints, late or dumped show starts, poorly focused screenings or other problems that will negatively impact the viewing experience. One union member on the picket line, who declined to give his name, said that if prints get damaged and the theatre cuts damaged portion of the film from the print, those segments of the film will be lost forever from the print, and subsequent screenings of the print will have portions of the movie missing. Action Alameda has tried to contact Kyle Conner several times by e-mail and telephone to get a statement, but to date Mr. Conner has not responded.
We did however find two theatre-goers who reported problems with screenings in the past. The first declined to be interviewed on camera or give her name, but said that while today’s screening of Batman was fine, the last screening she saw at the Alameda Theatre started 45 minutes late. Another patron said that she had a sub-par experience at her last visit to the theatre, and hasn’t been back yet.