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July 15, 2003

American Federation of Musicians Honors Actors' Equity for Support During Broadway Musicians' Strike

AEA President Patrick Quinn Asks for Assistance in Battling Non-Equity Tours

Patrick Quinn

Equity President Patrick Quinn addresses the AFM in Las Vegas

On June 23, 2003, the American Federation of Musicians of the US and Canada (AFM) recognized Actors' Equity Association (AEA) and AEA President Patrick Quinn "for its invaluable support of the Broadway musicians' strike" at the AFM's 95th Biennial Convention in Las Vegas. President Quinn accepted a plaque from AFM President Thomas F. Lee and received a standing ovation by the 328 delegates from 203 Locals across the US and Canada, who were at the convention representing a membership of over 100,000 members. President Edward Mc Conway of IATSE Local 1, Stagehands was also honored along with his union for their support.

"Actors' Equity's assistance during the strike is a shining example of the importance of working together to defend performing artists," said Lee, in presenting the "AFM Award of Recognition" Plaque to President Quinn.

Below is a portion of President Quinn's address to the Convention:

"As you all know, the entire landscape of our industry, together with New York City and the world, changed on September 11, 2001. After the attacks on our country, our nation's citizens displayed an unprecedented level of unity. The performing arts unions did the same. And when Equity, the AFM, IATSE and other unions were asked to cut our members' salaries in order for our shows to remain open, we gladly obliged because we knew that ever sacrifice we made would be to benefit the greater good.
Our unions have continued to work together towards this "greater good" with the formation of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG). 15 unions, including Actors' Equity and Local 802 of the AFM have created this model of solidarity to utilize inter-union support for collective bargaining purposes and to improve the public and political awareness of labor's vital and collective role in the theatre.
In early March, Equity and the Stagehand's Local 1 refused to work and took to the picket lines in support of President Bill Moriarity and Local 802 when they went on strike over (among other things) orchestra minimums. Every actor and stagehand who refused to cross those picket lines sacrificed their own wages for their fellow artists - here again, your fellow unions saw the "greater good."
What emerged from this action - and what was truly historic - was the unprecedented show of solidarity by theatrical labor unions. Local 802's strike slogan was "Support Live Theater." Essentially, what the actors took this message to mean was that supporting live theater means supporting our fellow unions. Individually, we are actors and musicians, but together, we ARE live theater.
Bette Midler said it best, "You've gotta have friends." But those of us gathered here today are not just friends - we are family. We are allies. We are all committed to providing the best wages and working conditions for our members while upholding the highest standards of integrity in the performing arts. We must now commit to offer inter-union cooperation and assistance whenever it is needed.
Actors' Equity cannot do it alone. The AFM cannot do it alone. We at Equity will always be there for you. I urge you, the brothers and sisters of my labor family, to do the same for us."
Thank you.
Patrick Quinn
President, Actors' Equity Association

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