Gene Mattis, Amc Theater, AMC discussed on The Frame



I'm Steven Cuevas filling in today for John horn. And we'll start today with a story that may have you thinking twice after spilling popcorn or soda at the movies for many sinking deep into the seed of a darkened movie theater is an escape surrendering yourself to the magic of filmmaking. But a new sobering report from variety reveals a pattern of workplace abuses and wage theft for the cleaning crews at some of the country's largest theater chains AMC regal and Cinemark variety. Investigative reporter gene Mattis spent eight months unwinding the complex web of janitorial contractors and subcontractors, and a workforce that relies on a largely immigrant workforce. When I spoke to Mattis this morning. He described what typical working conditions are like for many of these workers, you know, imagine walking into a multiplex, you know, ten screens tall screams, and you and maybe one or two other people are responsible for cleaning the. Tire thing, you know, here rooms, and so you go in you got, you know, maybe you've got a leaf blower, and so that makes it a little easier. You can blow all the candy wrappers and stuff out some of the aisles leaf lowers that that we will typically see gardeners using outdoors. Yes. The very same tax. Yeah. You see people going in a row with a leaf blower, and that does make it go faster. But it does also leap dust on a screen. And so if you don't like that as much so recently, they've sort of gone away from that. And you might see janitors have like a a backpack vacuum cleaner cleaning the bathrooms equipped kitchen their clinic concession stands. It is a very labor intensive job. When you think about how big a movie theater is. And how few people they have doing it. So it might be, you know, eight or ten hours every night that it takes two to clean one of these things. Talk to them, you tell the story of a number of these employees, including one named Maria Alvarez who worked at AMC theater in Santa Monica. And she told you about the very long, our she tended to work, and how it also affected her health and her personal life. Can you tell me about her? I mean, the thing that strikes me about this compared to some other sorts of janitorial jobs is the everyday week piece of it. I mean that was the thing that really jumped out at me. And so she said that in fact, it was so strict in that regard that her son died, and she tried to get the day off to go. You know, take care of thing to deal with that and her boss like basically wouldn't give her the day off. And so I mean, basically saying if you take off and then I'll come back, and what are the typically hourly wages and benefits like for these janitorial workers at AMC theaters. I mean, typically they would get paid every two weeks. And I heard it range from six hundred dollars seven hundred dollars eight hundred dollars nine hundred dollars somewhere in there every two weeks. So that would work out to something in the range of like five to eight dollars an hour. And then, you know, in terms of benefits, there's. There's no real benefits. It's not like, there's, you know, healthcare and 4._0._1._K on these kinds of jobs in the past these kinds of jobs might typically go to young people just entering the workforce. Like like, high school kids looking for summer work and so forth. When did that start changing? I mean, my impression is that. It's changed gradually, but really sort of took off in the in the mid nineties, and you had for the first time janitorial contracting companies that operated on a on a national scale that would be able to say to the major theater chains. Hey, look, we can take you know, dozens or hundreds of theaters even and provide janitors for you at a fairly low price, and what they would do is turn around and subcontract to the individual janitors or to other companies who had done subcontract to other janitors. And so that was kind of where it really took off in terms of on a national level. I think prior to that as you say, it was very smelly. Everybody's familiar with the the high school worker doing a couple of hours a day or something. And this is not that this is a really arduous work all night long seven days a week. We've seen similar labor in wage theft issues, come up and other industries with large immigrant employee populations agriculture warehousing and also in Indiana to'real in other places, like large office buildings is what you found in theater chains consistent to what we have seen in the past and these other industries in the janitorial world, my understanding is there sort of a different tiers of this. And so at the sort of office here, you're more likely to be dealing with unionized workers. But then I think the sort of lower tier with the theaters and restaurants in the industrial stuff. You're generally talking about union workers you're talking about this sort of aggressive subcontracting model. And so I think the conditions there are generally worse. What's been the response? From AMC and considerably smaller, regal and Cinemark change to your reporting. We have not gotten much response. I mean AMC is the only one that actually gave us a statement on the record and their position on is. Basically, this is an issue of a subcontractor, and this is not really an issue for us. And so we in our contract have a requirement that every day by by, you know, minimum wage laws, and if if they're not doing that, then take it up with them. And so from a legal standpoint, it's obviously been very difficult for advocates are class action attorneys or anything to make a lot of headway with the chains. And there's not a ton of incentive for the chains, then to, you know, unilaterally raise their prices are raised the the amount they're paying their subcontractors for the service. Do you expect the national association of theatre owners to take any sort of action or take up any sort of investigation themselves? I did reach out to them for the story. And did not hear anything back. I would be surprised to see them sort of pushing on their membership, especially the larger members to to sort of change their business model around this next week is finding off of the cinema con convention the moment in the year when theater owners and service providers and movie stars all congregate in Las Vegas to talk about the upcoming year in movies. So I mean, we're gonna have reporters there, and we're going to see, you know, what we could find out about, you know, any service pastas. Gene, Mattis is enterprise and investigative reporter at variety, gene. Thank you so much for joining us. And thank you so much for your reporting. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it..

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