A MEMBER-DRIVEN RECOVERY
There's no ignoring that this election is taking place in the middle of a global pandemic. Anyone running for a seat on Equity's National Council—either as an incumbent or a new candidate—has to acknowledge the seriousness and precariousness of this moment with eyes wide open.
As I write these words, theaters nationwide have been closed for six weeks. The situation is evolving rapidly, and what we know today is very different from what we knew two weeks ago. I have to assume the same will be true two weeks from now. There's a lot we simply can't predict. But there are some things we do know:
Live theater will recover.
It just will. Take it to the bank. Those of us who love theater understand that its power lies in its uniquely human nature. To come together with other people—loved ones and strangers—to be told a story is a core need of being alive. When we all come out of this together, there will be more desire than ever for communal experiences. Our art and our artists will be at the heart of quenching that thirst. Our work will be essential to the recovery of our communities.
Equity will need to be a partner in the coming recovery.
Every negotiation that Equity enters into with its employers is about striking an appropriate balance—determining what can be achieved for our stage managers and actors that will serve their interests, while also allowing for our employers to flourish, grow, and eventually improve their contracts. This will be all the more true as we emerge from this moment of social distancing together.
In that partnership, we must put the needs of our MEMBERS FIRST.
Finding an appropriate balance is only achievable when the two partners coming to the bargaining table advocate forcefully for their own needs. Too often in the history of our union, Equity has approached moments of economic downturn by focusing first on the well-being of its employers. I assure you, we don't need to do that. The employers will do it for themselves.
Our duty to our members will be to come to these discussions advocating for our members' needs. We will need jobs, we will need good and fair wages to pay our bills, we will need to earn our health coverage, and we will need to be confident of the safety of the workplaces to which we are returning.
With each day that passes by, I'm more thankful than ever to be a member of a union, because being in a union means that none of us has to go through this situation alone. It also means that when it's time to go back to work, we deserve to have leaders willing to champion our needs above all else.
As your Eastern Regional Vice President, I will continue to do just that.