New York -- Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has approved the launch of a political action committee, an independent organization dedicated to advancing the political interests of Equity’s members.
Last fall, Equity’s convention delegates voted overwhelmingly to approve a resolution to create this PAC, which the union’s National Council then passed into policy in February. This PAC is empowered to donate money to candidates in federal elections. While its board is comprised of current Equity member leaders and staff, it is an independent body that makes its own decisions about how to allocate its resources. The PAC will be funded by voluntary donations from Equity members, and not from dues or other union funds.
“This is the natural next step in the political and legislative work Equity has been doing over the past few years,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “COVID-19 starkly revealed that arts workers need a more powerful seat at the table. While we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, we strongly believe that this PAC can do more to ensure that elected officials listen to us and respond to our members’ needs.”
“Having a PAC gets us into 'the room where it happens,’” said Sarah LaBarr, at-large councilor for the Central Region and chair of the National Public Policy Committee for Actors’ Equity Association. “It allows us to support candidates who have shown that they understand our members’ needs when it comes to crucial legislation like the PRO Act, the CROWN Act, the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, Medicare for All and so much more.”
Equity’s current legislative priorities include Medicare for All, the PRO Act to protect workers’ rights to organize, the CROWN Act to prevent hair discrimination in the workplace and the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act to make Equity members’ work expenses tax deductible.
The union's recent legislative victories have included working with other unions to pass emergency provisions during COVID such as pandemic unemployment and a COBRA subsidy, pushing for a diversity and inclusion staff position at the National Endowment for the Arts, increasing the NEA’s budget and passing California’s Equitable Payroll Fund, which will cut down on misclassification by supporting small nonprofit theatres as they put their workers on the payroll. \