New York— Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, released the following statement regarding reports that Walt Disney World has agreed to provide space for an on-site center for COVID testing at Walt Disney World. 

“We have been consistent that testing is an important part of ensuring a safe workplace for Equity performers, and today, I’m pleased to see that Disney World has agreed,” said Kate Shindle, President of Actors’ Equity Association. “With the news that Disney will make testing available for Equity performers and others in the park, I’m happy to announce that Equity’s executive committee has signed a memorandum of understanding with Disney for Equity performers to return.” 

On June 23, Disney announced plans to recall members for rehearsals the following week. On June 25 Equity made a public statement that actors need to be tested because actors cannot practice social distancing throughout their workday. The following day, on June 26, Walt Disney World rescinded all of its recall notices for Equity members.  

Equity has recently approved safety plans for Diana: A True Musical Story, and two theatres in Massachusetts. All the safety plans included testing. 

Equity’s demands for testing were featured in more than 2,300 articles, including in CNN, The Washington Post, New York Times and Associated Press. The union made over 80 posts on social media social media with a reach of 20.9 million.

Equity has been working to protect the safety of its members from COVID-19 since before the pandemic caused widespread closures nationwide, making its first public statement on March 2, quickly calling to postpone Equity auditions and asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to put worker safety first as the mayor considered whether to limit public gatherings to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

Notably, Equity hired Dr. David Michaels, the former head of OSHA during the Obama administration, to serve as health and safety consultant for the union. Dr. Michaels has so far released a memo stipulating the four conditions that must be met before theatres should consider resuming production.

Equity’s other work regarding the coronavirus includes advocacy to increase and now extend unemployment insurance payments and subsidy for COBRA continuation coverage. Equity also launched the Curtain Up Fund to provide members with emergency financial relief.

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  

August 12, 2020