14 Jan

Seattle Movie Theaters and Union Projectionists

Just stumbled on this page rating local movie houses while searching for information on which theaters employ union projectionists. I’m still not entirely sure what the current status is for local theaters, though the review page does list some tidbits, but I found out that the union for the local projectionists is IATSE Local 15 which was officially organized as a stagehands’ union in 1893. The above link leads to a story told in 1913 by a charter member of Local 15:

“In 1885 we thought we had worked long enought for 50 cents and struck for 57 cents a performance. The manager would not pay it and tried to work the show himself with help of the ushers. They tried it one show and then we all went back to work on the next show and received 75 cents a performance. We did not have any trouble after that.”

20 thoughts on “Seattle Movie Theaters and Union Projectionists

  1. litlnemo, don’t be sorry. That’s why we leave in a ‘free’ society, isn’t it? I don’t have problem with people disagreeing with me 🙂 Unless we are all apathetical, we have to have some opinions or another and that means someone, somewhere will disagree with you…

  2. The projectionist union is a shadow of what it used to be, but union projectionists are professionals that take pride in presentation. Landmark Theatres in Seattle are almost entirely union projection houses. The Omnidome is union, AMC employs one as a tech, and Cineplex and Regal are non-union. The They don’t make a ton of money, there is no featherbedding, and they have ok benefits. Be nice to them, Seattle movie theatres and moviegoers are better off for their presence. Got to say I’m with Little Nemo.

  3. Thanks for filling in the info on which chains are union. Now I just need to start paying attention to which theater is which.

    How about the Majestic Bay?

    I worked at a theater for a while in the 80s, earning minimum wage at the concession stand, and I remember how we all envied the projectionists. 🙂

  4. No career to speak of. 🙂 Just that minimum wage job for a few months (at the King), then got hired at a place paying a full dollar an hour more and jumped at it. The theater job was more fun, but I was broke and needed the full time hours.

  5. Yeah, lets hope that doesn’t turn out to be a mistake as I go into semester 2. But look! I had to go to grad school to finally be able to join a union!

  6. I am a Projectionist in South Florida, we do have a local union, we were getting paid 8.75 an hour, we asked for a 50 cent raise after 1 1/2 years of being there, it was refused. the next day none of us came to work and the managers tried to thread projectors and run the shows and ended up scratching something like 17 prints…the next day they offered us the 50 cents and all has been well…..necessary evil….

  7. Wow. I hope the cost of living in South Florida is less than it is here, because in Seattle, that’s not much higher than minimum wage, and very difficult to live on. 🙁

    When I was working in a theater in 1985, I got the impression the union projectionists here were making more than $9/hour (at the time the minimum wage here was $3.35, which is what all of us at the concession stand were getting). But I might be wrong. The projectionists just seemed much more fortunate than we were back then. 😉

  8. Does anyone know if there are any union contracts inside movie theaters, specifically Landmark Theatres, that aren’t solely for projectionists? Thanks!

  9. Does anyone know whom to contact about a union projectionist job in one of the Seattle landmark theaters and whose hiring currently?

  10. I don’t know, but maybe someone will see this who has info. This is an old post, though, so I don’t know how many people will stumble on it at this point.

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