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February 18, 2004

cast members from THE JOBLESS CHRONICLES at the AFL-CIO

L-R: Ruby Dee, Alan Eisenberg, Ossie Davis, John Sweeney, Charles Rangel

Equity Executive Director Alan Eisenberg confers with US Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY)

Congressman Major Owens and Ossie Davis

photos by Jay Mallin

Actors’ Equity Goes To Washington:
New York Congressman Charles Rangel and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney Host Gathering In Equity’s Honor

Two Presentations Of “The Jobless Chronicles” Wow DC Audiences!

A sunny, brisk Wednesday found the Actors’ Equity Association feted in our nation’s capital. On February 11th, President Patrick Quinn, and Executive Director Alan Eisenberg traveled to Washington, D.C. to present to key politicians the Union’s position on non-Equity tours and to highlight the importance of the upcoming Production Contract negotiations with the League of American Theaters and Producers. Joining the contingent were Kate Burton, Kathleen Chalfant, Tony Roberts, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee and key staff members.

The kick-off event was a special presentation of THE JOBLESS CHRONICLES, at the AFL-CIO headquarters located a half block from the White House. Based on the real stories of individuals who have lost their jobs, THE JOBLESS CHRONICLES was created in response to the proliferation of non-Equity tours and the loss of work for Equity actors on the road. The rousing 20-minute musical puts a satiric spotlight on employers who look only at the bottom line, and the plight of the millions of jobless Americans, highlighting issues like health insurance, etc. More than 60 audience members stood and applauded in agreement with the show’s message. Following the performance, President Patrick Quinn spoke eloquently on the history of Actors’ Equity and framed the issues Equity faces in the upcoming negotiations with the League of American Theaters and Producers.

Later in the day, Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney hosted an influential private party on Capitol Hill in honor of Actors’ Equity Association. In attendance were AFM President Tom Lee, New York Congressmen Major Owens, Ben Carden, Elliot Eagle and Jerry Nadler; Congressman Brad Sherman of California, Congressman William Jennings Jefferson of Louisiana, and representatives from the offices of Arizona Congressman Raul M. Grijalva and Congresswoman Karen McCarthy of Missouri. A highlight of the evening was an encore performance of THE JOBLESS CHRONICLES.

Congressman Rangel congratulated Equity on its 90th Anniversary and the innumerable contributions the Union has made to the American Theater. President Quinn addressed the group, again pointing out the importance of the upcoming negotiations and the impact the non-Equity tours has had on Equity members and the theater in general. Ruby Dee echoed Quinn’s comments and urged the assemblage to assist Actors’ Equity in its campaign to reclaim the road. She also spoke about the importance of unions and the need to stand in solidarity. Each Congressman spoke, pledging support for Equity in the coming negotiations and applauded the Union for its numerous contributions to the American theater, as well as the historic leadership roles Equity has taken against segregation and the Blacklist. Congressman Rangel also thanked Equity for its contributions to the recovery of New York City in the weeks and months after September 11th.

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