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SIFF employees file petition to unionize

caption: 'That's Debatable' audience at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Seattle.
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'That's Debatable' audience at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

A group of year-round employees at the Seattle International Film Festival have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to form a union.

The employees, who work at SIFF Cinema Uptown and SIFF Cinema Egyptian, said in a press release that they unanimously voted to file for unionization.

Employees are seeking living wages, stable hours and scheduling, just-cause protections, and greater input into SIFF's long-term sustainability as an organization.

Their grievances began during last year's film festival when cinema staff walked out over uncertainty about paid hours post-festival.

After the walkout, employees claim there has been a decline in transparency and working conditions, and communication with administration has been "less than ideal."

In response the press release by the SIFF Cinema Workers Union, management at SIFF provided the following statement:

SIFF is a committed community partner and our strength as a nonprofit serving artists and film lovers is drawn directly from the passion of our employees, patrons and broader film community. This commitment extends to our relationship with those who serve in our workplace. We respect their voices and role not just as employees but also as an integral part of our broader shared community.

On Monday, March 13, we received a formal notice from some of our cinema floor staff regarding a petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This process is governed by federal law as overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

We respect the rights of these workers to engage in this process and SIFF will strive to engage in good faith, in accordance with our community’s values, at all times. Whatever outcome regarding the potential formation of a new union, we support the rights of SIFF employees to consider this option just as we value their everyday contributions to SIFF’s operations and mission.

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