L.A. Actors Vote Against Equity's 99-Seat Plan

News   L.A. Actors Vote Against Equity's 99-Seat Plan
 
Members of Actors Equity Association in Los Angeles have voted 2,046 to 1,075 against their union's plan to require the city's 99-seat theatres to start paying actors a $9 hourly minimum wage. Most actors at those theatres currently work for far less, or nothing, but many oppose the pay plan because they fear the union demand will stifle the theatres and result in substantially less work.

The vote is non-binding on the union's national council, which will decide on April 21 whether to accept, modify or reject the proposal.

AEA members in good standing who reside in Los Angeles County were eligible to vote in the Advisory Referendum, which ended last evening. A total of 44.6 percent of the eligible membership did so.

The figures were confirmed by AEA spokesperson Maria Somma, who released the following statement: "Equity's National Council will meet on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. The results of the Advisory Referendum vote provide important information to the Council as they consider the 99-Seat Proposal and intimate theater in Los Angeles. Council will take into account the percentage of members who voted, the number of votes cast and the results, as well as the information that members have shared with Council over the last several months."

Matters have continue to escalate in the weeks leading up to the referendum. A group of actors picketed their own union headquarters in L.A. on Monday, March 23.

As previously reported, AEA has created a proposal for a new contract, which would guarantee actors and stage managers are paid a salary no less than minimum wage. (Under the current plan, members receive a performance stipend, which can be as little as $7 a performance, that allows them to perform as an Equity member). However, the West Coast theatre scene responded negatively. With more pay for the actors, experimental theatre in small houses may no longer be possible. The proposal was also dismissed by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, and a group of actors planned to picket their own union today.

Click here to read more about the issue, including AEA's reasoning behind the proposal and how L.A. actors (and the Drama Critics Circle) are responding.

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