New York – Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, released the following statement following regarding the news that Walt Disney theme parks will lay off 28,000 of their employees

“A bill that could provide these laid-off employees with unemployment insurance and a pathway to affordable health care has been sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk for months,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association. “In Florida, laid off Disney workers can only receive $275 in unemployment benefits, which is unconscionable. The Senate must help these workers.” 

Equity staff have been in touch with Disney about how this news may impact performers working in the parks. Performers working on Equity contracts will hear more from the union as soon as the union has more information. The union will prioritize making sure performers are protected with all relevant provisions of the collective bargaining agreement and the WARN Act. 

In Florida, the maximum state unemployment insurance is only $275 per week. Federal unemployment assistance in the form of $600 per week expired at the end of July, which is why Equity has urged the Senate to pass the HEROES Act.  

The longer the Senate takes to pass this relief package, the longer Equity members and other workers go without the aid they have relied on for months. While some industries are reopening, it is not yet safe for many businesses to operate at full capacity. 

Background: Equity has been advocating for the Senate to pass the HEROES Act since its passage in the House in May.

Equity drafted a letter calling for $9 billion in additional supplemental arts funding, and over 260 employers signed on. It was delivered to Congress on September 17. 

Equity members and supporters have collected 26,000 signatures on relevant petitions, sent nearly 80,000 emails and text message and made 3,000 calls to Congress to advocate for the passage of this bill. 

Equity will continue to prioritize relief for members and the industry. 

ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org  #EquityWorks  

September 29, 2020