Actors' Equity Receives AFL-CIO Charter

Actors’ Equity received a historic national charter in its centennial year from the AFL-CIO today [February 26, 2013]. The direct charter, which was given at the morning session of the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting, makes Equity the 57th labor organization to receive the distinguished honor of formal association with the national federation of American unions.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka presented the charter to AEA First Vice President Paige Price and Executive Director Mary McColl at the AFL-CIO’s annual Executive Council meeting. In addition to President Trumka, on hand for the presentation were Vice President Arlene Holt-Baker and Secretary Elizabeth Shuler and members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, representing unions across industries and the nation.

“For nearly 100 years, Actors’ Equity has stood for excellence in the American theater, and for dignity, fairness and respect for stage actors and managers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Today Equity has affirmed those values as well as its affiliation with all of American labor, and we are happy to be presenting this great union with a new AFL-CIO charter.”

"As actors and stage managers one wouldn’t think of us as union members but Actors' Equity Association has a long and proud history of being part of the labor movement,” said President Nick Wyman in a statement addressed to the assembly. “It is a cornerstone of Equity’s foundation and we are pleased to receive this direct charter in this, our 100th year. To quote our first president Francis Wilson, ‘Our trail is out of the wilderness and that trail is affiliation with organized labor.’”

First Vice President Paige Price, who accepted the charter on behalf of Actors’ Equity Association said, “This year, Equity will mark its 100th anniversary as a union and a member of the labor movement. This charter represents the next act in Equity’s history and, on behalf of my fellow officers, members and staff, I would like to thank President Trumka, Vice President Holt-Baker and Secretary Shuler and the members of the Council. For all of us, the direct charter renews our commitment to working on behalf of our members and all Americans in creating a workplace where there is fairness and dignity for everyone.

“This is an important milestone in Equity’s history and we are proud to receive this direct charter,” said AEA Executive Director Mary McColl. “Equity works to ensure fair compensation, benefits and safe working conditions for its members. By doing that, this Union joins our sister unions in the fight to maintain the dignity and rights for all working Americans.”

Founded in 1913 by 112 actors, the Union received its first charter, signed by Samuel Gompers, in July, 1919 through its membership in the Associated Actors and Artists of America (4As). In addition to protecting its members by ensuring fair compensation and a safe working environment, AEA is also an advocate of the arts and social equality. Last June, the Union was presented with the Special Tony Award to mark their momentous centennial milestone.