At a meeting of Equity's National Council, I was proud to step to the lectern and speak these words to my fellow Councilors:
"In any given season, I am striving to be a median working member of Actors' Equity. For those who don't know, our median working member works about 17 weeks in a year, and earns a little bit less than $8,000 on Equity contracts. And I can tell you that most years I fall short of those figures. But in the good years - in the years in which I do hit $8,000 in earnings - I am on the hook for about $190 in Equity working dues.
Now, for the median Equity member, $190 is not an insignificant amount of money. It's more than a monthly Metrocard. It's a couple of trips to the grocery store. It's almost 8 doctors visits for those of us fortunate enough to be on Equity League-Coverage. It's a meaningful sum.
And you know what? It's worth it. About two and a half pennies out of every dollar is more than a fair price for everything the union is doing, everything it will do, and - perhaps most importantly - everything it has done up to the point at which I sign my contract.
Now, it should surprise nobody in this room that I'm a Democrat, and as a Democrat I am a fan of progressive taxation. And let's be clear, what we do not have at Equity is a progressive dues structure; we do not charge our highest-earning members a higher percentage of their earnings in dues than our lowest-earning members. Frankly, though, I'm OK with that. I'm OK with that if for no other reason because implementing such a system would actually be quite onerous on both our members and our staff.
But what I cannot abide, what I cannot support, and I what I will not vote in favor of today is a continuation of what we currently have, which is a nakedly regressive dues structure. The existence of any dues cap here at Equity ensures that our highest-earning members are charged a lower percentage of their earnings in dues than our lowest-earning members.
I am confident that the members of this Council would not accept such a tax structure on the municipal level. You would not accept it on the state level. You would not accept in on the federal level. I urge you all not to accept it within the walls of your own union.
If two and a half pennies out of every dollar is a fair price for our median member - if it's a fair price for me - then it's a fair price for all of our members."
After supporting a Membership Meeting Resolution for dues fairness, I'm proud to have advocated for it in Equity's House Affairs Committee, and supported the eventual recommendation sent to the Council.
On January 25th, 2018, I joined my fellow Councilors in voting overwhelmingly to recommend to our members the complete elimination of Equity's Dues Cap, which was soon thereafter approved by referendum.