Friday, August 31, 2007

Local labor issue -- OFS walkout

The volunteers and projectionists at the Olympia
Film Society are having a walkout to protest
recent board actions. See below for details. I
think they also have a web site:

Attached is some literature on the OFS walkout.

If people at OMJP are interested in learning more,
they can contact me directly. Email works, but
phone is faster.


OFS Projectionist and Volunteer Walkout

The OFS Board of Directors fired Operations
Manager Jeffrey Bartone on August 21st, 2007
after 21 years of service to the organization.
His termination was based on complaints of "rude,
abrasive, and uncooperative behavior".
It is our opinion that the recent decision was
not a true representation of the OFS community's
wishes, due to an inadequate number of
participating board members. We further feel
that Jeffrey's termination was the result of the
personal agendas of a few board and staff members
through a calculated and opportunistic effort.
Furthermore, the move included no contingency for
filling the extensive job requirements of
Technical Director, further highlighting a lack
of responsibility on the part of the board.

"To maintain high standards of participatory
-OFS Goals

Section 1 Article IV of the OFS bylaws states
that the board must include a minimum of eight
members. Though violation of this bylaw carries
no explicit repercussions, we believe its intent
was clearly ignored when the board voted on
Jeffrey's dismissal with only five members taking
part. Present at the vote were three prospective
members poised to become voting parties. Their
confirmation to the board was made conditional,
requiring them to stand aside on this issue. In
a consensus system, any individual member can
block a vote from being approved. We can only
assume that the reason for this unethical action
was based on fears that one or more of the new
members would have blocked the vote. We call for
a re-vote on Jeffrey Bartone’s termination with
at least the minimum number of required board
members as required by Washington State law. We
demand that all board members are allowed to vote
free of any conditions to their participation.

The position of Operations Manager at OFS is an
extremely challenging job. Jeffrey Bartone, in
his 21 year history in the Capitol Theater, has
accrued an intimate knowledge of the facility.
Out of friendship with Jeffrey, local
electricians, plumbers, and other professional
trades-people work after hours and free of
charge. It is Jeffrey’s unique style that has
such an irreplaceable impact in making the
Capitol Theater available to us all.

We feel that the board acted rashly in firing
Jeffrey without securing an interim Operations
Manager. We believe this reveals irresponsibility
on the part of the Board, and ignorance of the
very nuts and bolts that hold the Capitol Theater

We the projectionists, along with many other
volunteers, view Jeffrey as the human face to
OFS. He has personally welcomed us into the
organization, appraised our interests and skills,
and found us our place here. In firing Jeffrey,
the board cited a number of complaints about his
behavior. Many of us would not be a part of OFS
today had it not been for Jeffrey. We are now
willing to walk out on our volunteer shifts and
to possibly end our involvement with OFS. We
propose this gesture in contrast to any
complaints he may have received.

"To promote the spirit of an active volunteer
society among the membership"
-OFS Goals

Jeffrey's termination only serves to highlight
larger problems within OFS - the board is out of
touch with what many of the organization’s most
passionate volunteers want OFS to be. As trust
in volunteers dwindles, and intent on
profitability increases, volunteering at the
Society becomes more like a daily grind. We seek
to remind the Board that they are responsible to
us, the volunteers, and demand accountability.

This singular and extraordinary social
organization has been an invaluable contribution
to the Olympia community. Firing Jeffrey isn't
the first step we've disagreed with, but it is a
drastic, irreconcilable misuse of power. We're
not interested in making OFS more economically
viable at the expense of our core reason for
being here: fun. Those who view OFS only as a
business are mistaken when they expect us merely
to be obedient sources of free labor.

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