L.A. Actors Begin Voting Today on Equity's 99-Seat Plan

News   L.A. Actors Begin Voting Today on Equity's 99-Seat Plan
Members of Actors Equity Association in Los Angeles begin voting today on their union's plan to start requiring the city's 99-seat theatres to start paying actors a $9 hourly minimum wage. Many of the actors currently work for far less, or nothing, but oppose the pay plan because they fear the union demand will stifle the theatres and result in substantially less work.

AEA members in good standing who reside in Los Angeles County can vote today through April 17. The vote is only advisory. The union’s national council will decide on April 21 whether to accept, modify or reject the proposal.

Matters have continue to escalate in the weeks leading up to today's vote. 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. With a protest underway, AEA has issued a statement, which follows:

Actors' Equity Association believes that, after more than 30 years in which theaters have built their models on the fact that actors won't need to be paid, it is time for a positive and progressive change in L.A.'s intimate theater scene.

Equity's proposal, which resulted from six months of intensive listening to all sides of the issue has been created to answer three distinct messages from our membership — they want to be able to collaborate with like-minded artists, continue to participate in membership companies, and be paid for their work. Equity believes that actors should be respected and compensated fairly for their work, just like directors, musicians, set designers, and other professionals who are compensated in 99 seat productions.

Equity has repeatedly stated that these are proposals and should not be considered the final decision of the union. The union's National Council is and has been sensitive to all sides of the issue and will use that information in making its decision in April. Equity is strictly following the procedures in the Settlement Agreement that determines how changes are made.

We understand this is an emotional debate on all sides. Equity's proposal responds to the hundreds of members who made it clear they want to see real change in 99-Seat intimate theater and who want to be paid for their work.

Playbill.com will continue to update. The National Council will meet April 21 to discuss and make a decision on the recent proposal.

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