Actors’ Equity Names Joe Barnes National Director of Organizing

Actors’ Equity has announced that Joe Barnes has been named National Director of Organizing. 

Barnes joins Equity one year after members voted for a new dues structure as part of Equity 2020, a campaign to build a more aggressive, inclusive and responsive union by the year 2020. Barnes will help deliver on a promise made during the campaign to build a modern and strategic organizing program that will help create more paid work opportunities for Equity members. 

"Joe’s experience working with labor unions and Actors will take our organizing campaigns to the next level," said Executive Director Mary McColl. "He will add value to our organizing work all across the country."

In this role, which will be based in Los Angeles, Barnes will lead the union’s internal and external organizing programs. He will work strategically in this supervisory position to achieve additional work opportunities for Equity members and to increase the engagement of members with the union.  

"I’m thrilled to be joining Actors’ Equity and look forward to using my experience working in the labor movement to help organize new paid work opportunities for Equity’s talented Actors and Stage Managers," said Barnes. 

Barnes joins Equity following a string of organizing victories over the last year. In May, Equity reached a deal with Norwegian Cruise Line, marking the first time that a full Equity cast has been used on a cruise ship while the ship was docked in New York. In March, Equity reached an agreement with the producers of Rocktopia to ensure the show used wall-to-wall Equity contracts. In December, Equity announced a new three-year agreement with BroadwayCon, a contract that more than doubled the weekly salaries for stage managers and created a 95 percent increase in the weekly minimum for actors.   

Barnes has more than fifteen years of strategic organizing, public policy and political advocacy campaign experience. He served for three years as national Representative for SAG-AFTRA. Before joining Equity, he worked as the Western Regional Campaign Manager for the grassroots advocacy organization Compassion and Choices.