Workers at the Film Forum, the nonprofit New York movie theater known for its arthouse and repertoire programming, are pushing to unionize. Today, April 26, workers filed a petition to join UAW Local 2110, which represents staff at several universities and institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum and the New Museum.
According to a press release, an “overwhelming majority” of Film Forum workers demanded to be elected to the union. In accordance with National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) procedures, the Film Forum must respond to the petition by May 5.
The cinema employs about fifty people, half of them part-time. According to the Film Forum Union website, which went live today, part-time workers would be included in the union, along with full-time staff in theatre, facilities, administration, programming and advertising.
The group cited only hiring practices, health and safety measures for frontline staff and fair pay among its reasons for organizing.
“We come together as a collective unit, seeking agency and transparency in matters that impact our daily working lives and livelihoods,” the union said in a statement thread. mission on Twitter.
Film Forum has been a core independent film theater since its founding on the Upper West Side in 1970, when moviegoers could watch movies here that they couldn’t see in mainstream theaters. It opened its current location near the Holland Tunnel in Manhattan in 1990, and even in the age of streaming, the theater continues to draw crowds and its arthouse selection remains highly influential.
The theater now has four screens and sells over 250,000 tickets a year. It has an annual budget of $6 million and, as a registered non-profit organization, it receives money from private and public funds. Its endowment, initiated in 2000 with a $1.25 million donation from the Ford Foundation, now stands at $6 million.
In 2020, Film at Lincoln Center workers also joined UAW 2110. Last month, Hyperallergic reported on the struggle of workers at the Whitney Museum of American Art to join UAW 2110, and in 2020, staff of the Jewish Museum asked to join.
“We are very pleased that the Film Forum staff are organizing with our union,” Local 2110 President Maida Rosenstein said in a press release. “Ultimately, unionization will make the Film Forum a stronger and more sustainable place to work for everyone.”
Film Forum has yet to respond to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment.