Equity Leadership Misleading its Members

AEA membership misleading members

Equity councillors are sending out form letters and making phone calls to Los Angeles AEA members to encourage a yes vote on the referendum being mailed on March 25th.

However, a “yes” vote is not what they “say” it is. Please vote NO.

Form letter from AEA Eastern Chorus Councillor Ben Liebert

“Hi there – Thank you for getting in touch with me re:99-seat. Please forgive this form response but the emails have been abundant.

As a Eastern Actor’s Equity Councillor, it is my job to ultimately vote on the changes and hearing from my colleagues who actually live and work in the region is invaluable. I know many members are afraid that if they vote “yes”, Council will unilaterally impose the existing proposal without any modifications. I can promise you that is not true.

There are many complaints that say Council is not “listening” because no modifications are being made to the three prong approach. Because of the 1989 settlement agreement (that created 99-seat), we must have a referendum on the proposal before we make modifications to it. But because of all of the emails that I’ve read, like yours, and all the great alternatives in the world of social media, I will be pushing for modifications to the existing proposal, in terms of the changes themselves and the time frame for implementation. And I am not alone in wanting modifications. The LA membership has been so loud with so many good ideas that I would be a fool not to listen.

You elected me to represent you so I ask for your trust in the next step, in modifying for change but not this change. It is important that if you want change, any kind of change, you must vote “YES” on the referendum. If we only hear “no”, I will be encouraged to do nothing. And doing nothing is not want our membership wants. Please vote YES.”  – Ben

Response to AEA Councillor from member Loren Lester

“Dear Ben –  Thank you for your form response which didn’t address anything in my original letter to you, but was simply a sales pitch to vote YES.

Let me ask you something: In what circumstance would you sign a contract with the understanding that “it will be fixed later”?

I don’t know you but you’re probably a smart person and I assume that you would never sign a contract with odious terms and conditions with the hope that there will be further negotiations. How many awful showbiz stories have you heard that end with the line “just trust me.”

According to your disingenuous and deceptive letter, I will have THREE ways to vote: “YES on the proposal”, “NO on the proposal” or “YES on the proposal but fix it.”

That is a BIG FAT LIE.

You are very well aware that there will only be TWO choices and the third choice I’ve outlined will only be a “verbal” promise and, as you know, “verbal” promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. The results of your skewed referendum (if we vote yes/it passes) will be “The membership has spoken! They want THIS proposal!” And the proposal going out on 3/25 is VERY SPECIFIC.

So let me be VERY SPECIFIC: I am vehemently opposed to COMPLETELY SCRAPPING the current 99-seat Theatre Plan. I am vehemently opposed to turning all the 99-seat theatres in Los Angeles into NON-UNION theatres (unless they pay minimum wage.) I am vehemently opposed to membership companies being forced to go NON-UNION (unless they pay minimum wage) and vehemently opposed to self-produced productions being forced to go NON-UNION (unless they pay minimum wage.) I am vehemently opposed to the April 1st deadline to join a membership company and the moratorium on new companies.

In short, I DO NOT support the three-pronged approach that you are proposing but, according to your letter, if I vote “NO” – on THIS proposal – you will be “encouraged to do nothing.” Leadership decisions in a union must be based on listening to the will of the membership. You’re not listening – you’re “manipulating.” It’s all very calculated and it’s disgusting. Maybe you’re not as smart as I assumed you were if you think we can be fooled like this. Not in solidarity (on this issue)”  Loren Lester

NO means NO.


Save 99 Seat Theatre - AEA members vote NO