The employees of the Redstone 8 Cinemas in Kimball Junction decided to end a two-week long strike for a $15 an hour starting wage on Wednesday. Although employees did not get everything they wanted, they still say important progress was made.
The strike at the Redstone 8 Cinemas officially began on August 18th after theater employees were unsuccessful in negotiations to secure a $15 an hour starting wage.
On Wednesday, employees decided to end the strike and accept an offer for a $2 an hour raise, bringing the theater’s base pay up to $12.50 an hour.
Redstone 8 Employee Zinnia Kenny helped lead the bargaining efforts and told KPCW even though $15 an hour was not reached, she still sees the last two weeks as a success.
“There are always going to be, in negotiations, things that are lost over the course of a strike,” said Kenny. “I would say that even if it had been less, we would call this a success because this is just proof positive that workplace organizing is important and it works. The barrier to entry to this kind of thing is a lot lower than a lot of people understand. People think that this is impossible, people think that this is a whole process that you have to get legal documentation for and approval from a union, but really, you can just organize your workplace. You can go on strike. What’s keeping people from doing it is that they don’t understand that they can, I think.”
Utah is what's called an at-will employment state, meaning employees can be terminated at any time, for any reason that would not violate state or federal law. Exceptions to this include employees who have contracts or collective bargaining agreements with their employers limiting their at-will status.
Representatives for the theater’s parent company, Los-Angeles based Metropolitan Theatres, did not return KPCW’s requests for comment.
KPCW has previously reported on several short-staffed local businesses offering starting wages of $15 an hour or higher in an effort to attract employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Theater employees cited their low wages as reasons for high employee turnover and maintenance issues at Redstone 8.
Kenny said although pay at the theater is now higher, those problems might persist until wages better align with other businesses in the area. She said until then, the theater employees will continue to organize.
“We understand that this is still going to lead to some issues at the theater -- $12.50 is still lower than what a lot of Park City is going to be paying,” she said. “but economic factors mean that we will have to return to work at one point or another, and we understand that we have already made some changes and that this is not the end, that we’re just going to keep organizing going forward and make sure everyone there understands what they’re worth.”
Redstone 8 Cinemas management has been operating the theater at significantly reduced hours during the strike. Kenny said she expects normal hours to resume within the next two weeks.