New York -- Actors’ Equity Association -- the national union for professional actors and stage managers in live theatre -- has announced that public health expert Dr. David Michaels will consult for the union, effective immediately to help develop new model health and safety standards for COVID-19. 

The news comes one week after Equity issued a statement that it is “unclear under the current circumstances” how production can resume and asked members to call their regional Equity office if they are offered work. 

“David’s expertise will be invaluable during this unprecedented time,” said Mary McColl, Executive Director Actors’ Equity Association. “Ultimately, while the employers are solely responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all actors and stage managers, Equity is committed to being an industry leader to help develop model health and safety standards that will eventually allow us to reopen and maintain a safe and healthy workplace.” 

On April 21, Equity Council unanimously passed a new internal membership rule that members may only return to work when the union deems it safe to do so, and that they will not sign over their rights to a safe workplace. Dr. Michaels will be key part to implementing a plan where member safety is put first and decisions are made with a clear safety and scientific basis. 

Dr. Michaels is currently a Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health of the George Washington University. Notably, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during the Obama administration, from 2009-2017. He received his Masters in Public Health (MPH) and PhD from Columbia University, and has also taught epidemiology at the CUNY School of Medicine and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 

Highlights of Equity’s work to date on COVID-19 

ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA.  #EquityWorks

April 24, 2020