F.A.Q.

What have the FWOC councilors been doing?

In addition to fighting for better wages, more contracts, stronger contacts, and fewer concessions through their votes in Council, the Regional Board, and committees, your FairWagers on Council have helped shape and influence Equity policy by championing Membership Meeting Resolutions, brought forward by rank-and-file members, that aim to make our business and union more fair for all, in our contracts, our dues, and our union’s internal processes, including policy to

  • insist negotiating teams “Judge It by the Budget”—when negotiating or promulgating agreements, the association will consider an employer’s actual ability to pay, by, for example, a non-profit theater’s total expenses, financial and local history, program service revenue versus gifts/grants/contributions, and total gross box office, rather than just its box office receipts;
  • eliminate the dues cap, so that ALL members pay the same percentage of their salaries in working dues;
  • give members at membership meetings in Liaison Areas the ability to make and pass motions that affect union policy, further democratizing our union by beginning to level the playing field between members in Liaison Areas and office cities;
  • modernize our conflict of interest policies to ensure our members can voice their concerns free from employee repercussions.

What do AEA councilors do?

Our union is a democracy, and the Councilors are the members we elect to represent us. It’s like Congress, but for Equity. They are tasked with setting national policy, negotiating and ratifying contract terms, approving the union’s budget, and overseeing the work of the Executive Director.

Do AEA councilors get paid?

Nope, the Councilors and Officers of AEA are all volunteers. Only AEA staff members are salaried employees.

How many AEA councilors are there?

AEA’s National Council is composed of 75 Councilors and 8 Officers.

The number of Councilors per region is determined by the proportion of members within the region, and by the percentage of those working under Equity’s Principal, Chorus, and Stage Manager categories.

Central
1 Chorus
4 Principal
1 Stage Manager

Eastern
12 Chorus
28 Principal
7 Stage Manager

Western
3 Chorus
15 Principal
4 Stage Manager

Do councilors only represent their regions?

No, all councilors represent members for all regions.

Can I vote in AEA elections?

You must be a member in good standing of Actors’ Equity Association to vote. A member in good standing is one whose dues are current, and is not on temporary withdrawal, suspended payment, out-of-benefits or delinquent.

How do I find out if I’m a “Member in Good Standing?”

Two ways!

  1. Call AEA’s offices at 212-869-8530 and speak to someone in the Membership Department to find out your status.
  2. Log In to the Member Portal to check your membership status and pay your dues. If you’ve never registered for the Member Portal, you will need your Equity ID# which can be found on your Equity card. If you don’t have your card, call the office and they will tell you your number (and maybe send you a new card!)

Why only Paper Ballots? What happened to online voting?

It’s a legal thing, and it sucks. Long story short, there was a ruling in a Federal District Court in Texas that basically made conducting union elections with online ballots too legally risky. You can read more about it here and here. So we’ll be using paper at Equity for the foreseeable future. This means it’s up to you to be even more proactive about getting your ballot and sending it back.

Can I vote for candidates in other regions besides the one I live in?

Yes. All members can vote for candidates across all regions.

Can I vote for candidates in categories other than the ones i work?

Yes. All members can vote for candidates across all categories.

You have a lot of Eastern Councilors. Will FWOC represent me well if I don’t live in NYC?

The #FairWageOnStage movement was born out of a contract campaign in New York, which is why much of our Core Membership live in New York. That said, we are proud to be running candidates from all three regions this year, as well as from both office cities and liaison areas.

We believe that stage managers and actors deserve fair wages, that our employers should be working towards paying LIVING wages, that we need Equity ASMs on every agreement, and that our contracts need to Judge It By The Budget. These values are universal, and apply to all our members, no matter where they happen to be living.

Why was the 2018 AEA election so important?

2018 marked the beginning of the transition to bi-annual elections at Equity, which means the Council we elected that year is the Council we have until 2020. Also, to accommodate that transition, the 2018 elections were the largest in the history of the union, with more than ⅔ of seats on the Council up for grabs.

How many seats were up in the 2018 election?

There were 55 seats up in the 2018 election. All 8 Officer Seats, and 47 of the 75 Councilor seats.

  • 8 National Officer
    • President
    • 1st Vice President
    • 2nd Vice President
    • 3rd Vice President
    • Eastern Vice President
    • Central Vice President
    • Western Vice President
    • Secretary/Treasurer
  • 30 in the Eastern region
    • 8 Chorus
    • 18 Principal
    • 4 Stage Manager
  • 4 in the Central region
    • 1 Chorus
    • 2 Principal
    • 1 Stage Manager
  • 13 in the Western region
    • 1 Chorus
    • 10 Principal
    • 2 Stage Manager

what is a slate? what is a bloc? what is a caucus?

Slate: A list of candidates for nomination or election

Bloc: a group of voters or politicians with common goals.

Caucus: Members of a legislative body who belong to a particular party or faction.

This is the Fair Wage on Council slate, a group of 15 candidates who are seeking election to AEA Council. We share common goals, in that we believe that theaters and producers should pay according to their ability and to what is fair and equitable. When elected, they would join our 7 council members you helped get elected last year as a caucus.

Because of the rise of factions like the Tea Party, there is fear against ideological stringency: when members of a body politic march in lockstep according to some unwavering principle that won’t let them compromise. (Though it ought to be noted that the Tea Party’s overriding directive seems to be the weakening of the body they serve, the federal government. Fair Wage on Council’s overriding directive is the exact opposite: the strengthening of a 50,000+ member union.) While common goals unify, in most instances, they are like malleable rubber cement, not entrenched Krazy glue. Malleability exists. Did the Blue Dog Democrats all vote the same way on every bill? No. Does the Congressional Black Caucus? No.

Are we, likewise, automatons with a binary code that will only allow us to vote in sync with one another? No.

We routinely have disagreements among ourselves. But what we do is make sure everyone understands why the disagreements exist; how we as a group arrived at a decision; and that everyone’s voices were heard. We plan on doing the same on council.

Furthermore, our mere act of listening to one another has broadened our knowledge base about the issues facing chorus members, stage managers, and actors, as well the issues facing each other on different contracts.

Are we all united on the belief that wages are subpar; that inclusion, participation, and engagement all stem from discussion about wages? Yes. These guiding principles help us navigate decisions, but we are committed to making the most informed decision we can, based on the tools and evidence at our disposal. What we are most interested in is enacting policy that makes our union strong, our members secure, and our art vibrant.

As founding members of Fair Wage OnStage, our slate of candidates have put in time, energy, and brainpower into meticulous research on: operating budgets, contractual details, American labor practices, history of labor relations, data of contracts worked and workweeks accumulated, and, of course, the origins of the internet meme Leroy Jenkins and the construction of 32-bit emojis.

We have done these things in support of our union, which we believe can be a powerful and inspiring organization in America for all artists and all workers. We have done these things in support of our stage manager and actor brothers and sisters, for whom we want better wages and better workplace conditions. We have done these things in support of our country, which we believe is made a far stronger one by a labor force that can keep itself fed, clothed, healthy, and happy.

And we want to continue to do this as elected officials of Actors’ Equity Association.