Amherst Cinema, union agree on new contract

Staff Writer
Published: 2/4/2023 5:01:25 PM
Modified: 2/4/2023 5:01:04 PM

AMHERST — A union contract that will extend through June 2025 has been reached between the Amherst Cinema and the union representing the nonprofit arts and education center’s box office and concession stand workers.

Both Amherst Cinema Workers United and the cinema’s board of directors announced on Friday that, following six months of bargaining, an initial contract was unanimously ratified that calls for an across-the-board wage increase, an average of 6% in the first year for box office and concession workers and supervisors, and a robust grievance procedure and just cause discipline procedures.

The bargaining unit represents 10 hourly workers at the 28 Amity St.

Also included in the deal is a labor-management committee to address issues of health and safety and COVID-19 protocols, and to ensure good communication with Amherst Cinema management and improved benefits, paid time off, seniority rights and dignity and respect.

A statement issued by the Cinema’s board of directors notes the collaborative effort between the cinema and the union, the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and the legal team at Sullivan, Hayes & Quinn.

“As a cultural institution located in a vibrant arts and educational region, Amherst Cinema’s greatest asset is the creativity, energy and enthusiasm of our employees,” the directors wrote in the statement. “We are pleased to have been able to work closely with the ACWU to reach a new collective bargaining agreement that provides a stable workplace structure for years to come. We look forward to continued cooperation and meaningful dialogue that will further enhance and strengthen our organization.”

AJ Chobani, a union bargaining committee member, credited guidance from the workers center as instrumental to the union’s success.

“It took a year plus of Amherst Cinema workers organizing outside our regularly scheduled shifts to make this day possible,” Chobani said in a statement.

The union was voluntarily recognized by the cinema last April.

Alfonso Neal, the union’s bargaining representative and co-director of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, called the contract an historic moment for the union.

“Their efforts and solidarity illustrate that when workers struggle together, they win,” Neal said. “Throughout this lengthy bargaining process, we have appreciated Amherst Cinema’s management and bargaining teams’ willingness to have constructive dialogue and for respecting the workers’ democratic choice to organize.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at
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