“YES” side… you say WHAT?!
Unfortunately, quite a few “Myths” are floating around about the Proposal from the “Yes” side. As this is our second Myth-Busting post in a short period of time, it looks like “Debunking the Myths” may be an on-going series ..
Grab a cup of coffee and settle in. You’ll be here for a bit.
We’re not really voting on this Proposal or the specific terms in this Proposal. This is just a “starting point for change.”
Regardless of what anyone says, the FACT remains – and please, please, please let us deal in FACTS – that we are voting on the terms of THIS PROPOSAL and only this proposal, not on what we hope AEA might or might not do down the road. Listen, if a producers organization said to Equity, “here’s our contract proposal, and it kind of sucks for you and your members, but we promise you we’re gonna make all these great changes to it, so just vote “Yes” on what’s here and we’ll fix it later,” Equity would look at those producers like they had lost their minds.
Equity’s Proposal is written the way it is to satisfy “the specific requirements of the settlement from 30 years ago.
Absolutely false. Equity had to follow a certain process to satisfy the settlement agreement. The substance of their Proposal could have been anything. They chose this.
Equity’s Proposal requires actors be paid minimum wage because California and Federal labor laws require it.
Except no one seems to be able to point to any particular law to support this argument.
If it were true:
A) How could Equity itself offer two prongs of this very Proposal (Self Produced and Member Companies) which require NO PAYMENT, even though tickets are being sold.
B) How come SAG is allowed to offer contracts with deferred or no pay, for example, in their New Media agreements?
C) How is it that museums and all sorts of other arts organizations can charge money for tickets and still have legions of “volunteers?” Not to mention that there are plenty of organizations that take in money, say in the form of “dues”, which are actually run by unpaid volunteers, who for argument’s sake we might call “Councillors.”
The choice is between the change this Proposal offers and no change at all. In fact the “NO” side doesn’t want any change.
That is absolutely NOT the choice. “Change… Just not THIS change” means exactly what it says. Nobody that we know of is talking about 25 more years of the same.
But listen, if you don’t trust that’s the case, if you’re afraid that it’s this change or no change, there is an airtight failsafe mechanism in place to ensure that change must happen. Once this Advisory Referendum is done, if Equity allows our community to come together to be the agents of our own change, and we stall, or can’t come to an agreement, or they just don’t like what we come up with, Equity is free at that point to unilaterally implement their current proposal or any other changes it wants. So change is definitely coming. It’s just a matter of what exactly it’ll be and who will be the agents of that change.
And that’s really what this all it comes down to. Self determination. We as actors are so out of control in so many parts of our careers. We don’t expect our union to be leading the charge to dictate how we can and can’t practice our art. We simply cannot fathom why Equity staff and council are so utterly determined to hand down edicts from on high in this matter, to NOT include us in the process in the ways that we can be helpful, and that we want to be and feel we have the right to be included. What could it hurt? Wefail to see how us needing to be an integral, equal part of the process is wrong, or outrageous, or unreasonable.
Equity will not be implementing a one-size fits all approach in dealing with the theatres currently covered by the current 99-Seat Plan.
And yet a one size fits all approach is EXACTLY what they proposed and what we are being asked to vote on.
Equity does not “want to destroy small theatre companies”
And yet what they’ve proposed will very likely do just that.
People on the “NO” side are anti-Equity and anti-union.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Because the union is not its staff, or even its Councillors. The union is its members. WE, all of us, are the union. And so we would ask, why is our union not supporting its members? Why is our union not letting us participate in shaping our own destiny? What we owe to the union we love is not unquestioning, unswerving obedience but rather the commitment to stand up when we, the members, know the leadership is making a huge mistake that hurts those members, its reputation, and its cause.
Those people on the “NO side are all vicious, vitriolic, uncivilized, homicidal, Councillor eating cannibals.
Ok, now that one is actually true.
Oh, all right, maybe it’s only partially true. Look, we certainly don’t condone boorish, intimidating, humiliating, hostile behavior. But how many of the 6500 Equity members in LA have been engaging in an activity that we’re now all tarred with, so much so that Equity can’t even hear what we’re saying because all they can think about is how awful our behavior has been? An incredibly small percentage of us who happen to be very vociferous have admittedly posted angrily or sent horrendous emails. And yes, it was horribly wrong and not at all helpful to engage in that kind of behavior. But the truth is we are outraged. And fearful. And we have every right to be. Because Equity has done this VERY badly, and at this stage we think they would be the first to admit it. They chose to mess with something completely essential and defining and epic to us, to our sense of who we are, to our very identity as artists and as people – and that is our ability to be on stage, to act. And they did it in a way that left us feeling ignored or disempowered.
The “NO” side doesn’t have any specific ideas about the kinds of change we’d like to see.
Well, unlike Equity, we don’t want to jump to conclusions or assume anything without adequate, inclusive study and thoughtful discussion. And maybe by being open and engaging in that kind of exploration and dialogue, with all points of view represented at the table, we can come up with some ideas that haven’t even been thought of yet. But just to be clear, we asked — specifically – for a tiered approach to change. There are different ways to do that, but HERE are 3 possibilities.
A “Yes” vote will lead to all kinds of changes, like a multi-tiered approach, HAT contracts, and pension/health weeks. A “NO” vote leads to no change, stagnation, and more of the “same old, same old.”
“Yes” will lead to all kinds of changes, just none of those mentioned above. A “Yes” vote is not a vote for just any change. It is a vote to approve the specific changes in the Referendum Proposal and only those.
And those changes mean you support minimum wage, regardless of:
· how many producers it forces to go non-Equity
· how many theatres it forces to close
· how many 2 character plays take over the landscape
· how many new or edgy plays never get developed
· how many opportunities it destroys for you to act in Los Angeles.
But what you are most assuredly NOT supporting is:
· a multi-tiered approach
· actors getting health/pension weeks
· a movement toward HAT contracts
· a process which encourages theatres to move toward contracts in general.
Because there is not a single word about any of those in the proposal.
ALL you get with this proposal is the opportunity to lose your shirt self-producing, membership companies dwindling away, fewer opportunities to act, and minimum wage for a very small number of us.
A Myth is as Good as a Mile
Unless you’re just totally opposed to any version of intimate theatre, of 99 Seat Theatre in any form, we suggest that if you’re merely unhappy with the current 99 Seat Plan and want to see changes, or if you love theatre and want to see the theatre scene in Los Angeles continue to thrive and grow, albeit with improvements that take better care of actors, you should definitely vote “NO” on the Equity Proposal, if you haven’t done so already. And then let’s fix the system ourselves, in conjunction with Equity, with all the voices which comprise our magnificent and unique theatre community fully engaged and represented.
Pour another cup of coffee … more Myth Busters HERE.