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August 22, 2005

Equity Hails Pataki Veto of New York State Agent Bill

Unions' Lobbying Efforts Pay Off

After intense lobbying efforts by Actors' Equity and other 4A's unions, New York State Governor George Pataki vetoed Assembly Bill A.8318-A/Senate Bill S.5602 that would amend the state's talent agency law. Had it passed, the bill would have allowed managers to act as agents and negotiate employment for their clients, but without any of the restrictions or state oversight that agents face.

"We are pleased that the Governor understands the need for protections for our members, especially young performers," said Equity President Patrick Quinn. "Over the years, Equity has fought to safeguard members in their relationships with agents in order to prevent abuse. The legislation could have opened a dangerous door."

"We applaud Governor Pataki's veto of the Assembly Bill and the intent of his veto message," said Equity Executive Director Alan Eisenberg. "The Governor heard Equity's concerns, as well as the concerns voiced by SAG, AFTRA, The Writers Guild and The Directors Guild, on this very important issue."

In 1981, the Supreme Court decision in H.A. Artists & Associates, Inc. v. Actors' Equity Association expressly ruled that the system of requiring agents of Equity members to be licensed by the Union was warranted because Equity had a legitimate interest in protecting actors and stage managers against exploitive actions.

Currently agents are appropriately licensed, bonded and subject to state supervision. This formula protects members from unscrupulous business practices. In a letter sent to the Governor, Equity strongly expressed its opposition to the bill, saying that it "would weaken these important protections and have a detrimental impact on all our members." SAG, The Writers Guild and The Directors Guild of America all registered opposition to the measure.

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