MEMBER-DRIVEN NEAT NEGOTIATIONS
We have a lot of contracts at Equity, and each one is unique. Some of them are promulgated, which means they're created internally and we offer them for use by employers. Some are individually negotiated with a single producer, seeking to create the best possible contractual instrument for our members working at a specific institution. And some—including many of our largest and most profitable agreements—are negotiated with multi-employer groups, meaning that we sit across the table from a group of employers who are seeking the best possible deal for themselves collectively.
The New England Area Theatres Agreement (NEAT, for short) is one of these multi-employer agreements, and our success in its negotiation dictates the ability of many of our members living and working in the Boston area to pay their bills and earn their benefits.
Now, one of the most important takeaways of the #FairWage campaign Off-Broadway was that when the membership is informed, organized, and activated around a negotiation, it gives us tremendous leverage. The stage managers and actors working Off-Broadway were in lockstep throughout the process because they'd been invited in. We empowered them by letting them know what we were fighting for, and giving them something to be proud of, and our employers knew it. It's no small part of why we were able to achieve those historic gains. That's the power of internal organizing.
I've championed this new culture of negotiation at Equity as Eastern Regional Vice President, and I'm proud to say that thanks to the extraordinary bravery and commitment of local members—as well as the leadership of Eastern Developing Theater Chair Erin Maureen Koster and Negotiating Team Chair Joanne Borts--it paid dividends for our stage managers and actors across New England.
In our negotiations for the NEAT Agreement, member outreach and involvement began a year in advance of sitting down at the table—including surveys, action groups of rank-and-file members mobilized and ready for response, and a robust member presence observing the negotiations. More than 25 Equity stage managers and actors from the Boston area observed the negotiations, standing shoulder to shoulder with their negotiating team. Our employers noticed these tactics, and responded well to our organization and strength. The result was a staggering 28.6% increase in salaries, in addition to a whole host of other gains.
As Eastern Regional Vice President, I have and will continue to encourage and empower Equity's leadership to galvanize and organize our members around EVERY contract negotiation.