By Richard Fancy. (Reprinted with permission).
Myth: Small theaters with tiny budgets have to pay their actors minimum wage. It’s federal law.
Nonsense. If it were federal law, Equity has been breaking the law for the last thirty years; nobody gets minimum wage in 99 seat theater. And National Equity knows that its nonsense: under their new proposal membership companies can pay its old members NOTHING. Not even a stipend. Only new members would be paid minimum wage.
Myth: Unions cannot collectively bargain a contract for less than minimum wage.
More nonsense. SAG-AFTRA has negotiated deferred payment on their new media contract and the SDC (the stage directors society) has negotiated contracts for 99 seat theater on a fee basis in which no director will make anything like minimum wage.
Myth: If you vote no on this proposal, you are anti union.
Beyond nonsense into offensiveness. Loyal opposition when my union is wrong supports my union. I voted for Obama when Bush was president, my conservative friend Paul voted for Romney in the last election. Were we anti-American?
Myth: if we eliminate the small theater plan (Equity’s stated purpose) new opportunities will arise for Equity actors. Look at San Francisco and Chicago.
Here’s what’s happened in San Francisco and Chicago: more non Equity theaters. More theaters in which you wouldn’t be able to work.
In San Francisco National Equity tried the one- size -fits- all type solution that they want to impose here. Result: out of 75 theater companies in San Francisco , 55 are Non Equity. (Figures provided by AEA to Steven Leigh Morris.)
And Chicago? Joe Mantegna is already on record about National Equity’s interference in Chicago. There are so many non Equity theaters there that Chicago’s version of the LADCC, the Jeffersons, has two award ceremonies; one for Equity theaters, and one for non-Equity theaters!
Myth Busting by RICHARD FANCY
“Last season I played Fitz in Rogue Machine’s production of Penelope. At Pacific Resident Theater Ensemble I’ve played Willy Loman, Halvard Solness in The Master Builder, Robert in Betrayal; at the Odyssey I played Joe Keller in All my Sons and Moe Axelrod in Awake and Sing.
I’ve been lucky; I’ve had a career in television and film. But nothing I have done in the industry has been as significant to me as my experiences in 99 seat theater.“