New York – Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, released the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s tweet asking the Senate to block all coronavirus relief until after the election.
“The President’s reckless and irresponsible decision to postpone relief talks while most of the arts and entertainment sector is unemployed is an insult not just to our members, but Americans everywhere who will suffer with a slower and more uncertain economic recovery,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association. “The President’s refusal to fight for pandemic relief ignores the millions of Americans who are desperate for unemployment insurance, and even health care, during a global pandemic. Equity members have gone seven months without work through no fault of their own. They still need to pay bills and feed their families. Equity has been fighting for the HEROES Act because a new relief package is more important than partisan politics.”
After the HEROES Act passed the House and then languished in the Senate for over four months, House Democrats introduced a new version of the bill that now needs Senate approval. The bill includes the following provisions that protect Equity members:
- $10 billion in emergency arts funding would be made available via an updated “Save Our Stages” Act that also includes new, critical worker protections.
- An additional $135 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. More funding was also allocated for the National Endowment for the Humanities and Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
- New provisions to ensure that workers who earn a mix of traditional (W-2) and independent (e.g. 1099) employment income can fully access the unemployment assistance provided in the CARES Act.
Equity drafted a letter calling for additional supplemental arts funding, and over 260 employers signed on. It was delivered to Congressional leadership on September 17.
Equity has been advocating for the Senate to pass the HEROES Act since its passage in the House in May.
Equity originally joined with other unions and fought to get arts and entertainment workers included in the unemployment provisions in the CARES Act in March, helping expand the bill to apply to arts workers who lost future work.
In July, Equity joined a coalition calling for a fix for “mixed income” earners.
Equity members and supporters have collected 26,000 signatures on relevant petitions, sent nearly 80,000 emails and text message and made 3,000 calls to Congress to advocate for the passage of this bill.
Equity endorsed Vice President Joseph Biden for the 2020 presidential election.
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. www.actorsequity.org #EquityWorks
October 6, 2020