I’m a founding member of #FairWageOnstage, the grassroots movement that demanded an end to decades of stagnation, and gave Equity critical leverage last fall in securing wage increases of up to 83% Off-Broadway. Now our #FairWageOnCouncil slate is running to ensure FAIR WAGES, INCLUSION, PARTICIPATION, and ENGAGEMENT for actors and stage managers nationwide. See our full platform here.
CANDIDATE SPEECH TRANSCRIPT
Hi my name is Manoel Felciano and I’m running for Eastern Chorus Council. And the reason I’m running is the for the first time I have a lot of reasons to be hopeful about the future of our union.
- I’m hopeful because my work with #FairWageOnstage taught me that we can fight for what is FAIR and not give in to FEAR as we have for too long. And if we do, we have the power to change our fortunes, in ways that everybody told was unrealistic and impossible. But the collective power of organized, passionate, disciplined, engaged, data-driven, media-savvy labor activists, is the kryptonite to our employers’ intransigence, and the ice in the veins of our negotiating teams.
- I’m hopeful because I have seen that there is no greater leverage than informed, educated, inspired, galvanized members, because those members are willing to fight.
- I’m hopeful because I helped put an end to the days of an actor taking home less than $400 on his Equity approved salary while he swims every night in a onstage swimming pool that cost $100,000.
- And that makes me hopeful that all member will start to be compensated more fairly, including those whose jobs are most at risk, who work more for less, whose contributions keep this union solvent, but whose sweat for Equity never becomes actual sweat equity: the chorus. The days of a chorus member making 30% less at one Broadway theater because it’s “nonprofit” than at the one across the street, must end. Understudies, swings and dance captains? You work 20-25% more hours a week? You make 20-25% more money. Also: a 40 hour work week is legally considered full time, anything over that merits overtime. Yet here we rehearse 48 hours / 6 days a week without batting an eye (or getting a penny of over time)
- I’m particularly hopeful because clear, effective, transparent communications is a pet peeve of mine. You see I designed all our logos, infographics and animated videos along with the FairWageOnstage website, and came up with a lot of our slogans and hashtags. Good design, coupled with pithy, trenchant specific messaging is the scalpel you need to slice through barrage of banalities we’re inundated with every day, and the only hope we have of educating and mobilizing both our members and the Public to Equity’s priorities.
- I’m hopeful that fair wages, determined not by number of seats or by box office… but by taking into account all revenue streams from endowment income to ticket sales to grants and donations… wages based an employer’s total ability to pay, … becomes the guiding principle of all our contract negotiations. #JudgeItByTheBudget will protect smaller theaters, allowing them to grow and thrive while protecting us from being exploited by larger theaters that can afford to pay more but never will… until they have to.
- I’m hopeful that this is the beginning of a sea change in our union, because it has to be. You treat sclerosis and anemia with fresh, iron-rich blood.
- I’m hopeful because I have a badass Valkyrie Warrior for a union president who is telling me she needs me to be more aggressive, inclusive and responsive, to which I say let’s fucking go.
- And I’m hopeful that if elected, my fellow councilors will be willing to listen to new ideas and strategies, because I promise that I will listen to you, I know much I still have to learn.
- And lastly I’m hopeful because I have a three year old angel for a daughter and a dyspeptic demon in the white house and I can’t afford not to be hopeful.
My first two Equity jobs were as a swing. I’ve understudied, been a pit singer (twice), toured, worked regionally, was a company member at A.C.T., and may soon receive my second Gypsy Robe– which I will wear proudly.
Proudly, because parenthood and #FairWageOnstage finally outmuscled my FEAR— of being replaced or blacklisted, or that my union was powerless — and inspired me to fight for FAIR for all members, including those whose jobs are most at risk, who work more for less, whose contributions keep this union solvent, but whose sweat for Equity never becomes actual sweat equity: the Chorus.
Examples of FAIR:
- Roundabout, LCT, MTC: #BroadwayStageBroadwayWage!
- Understudies / swings: 20% more work hours? 20% more pay!
- Five day rehearsal work week
- #JudgeItByTheBudget: firm but flexible contracts, insisting that employers prioritize our wages in their spending.
Achieving FAIR needs an empowered Union: by designing the #FairWageOnstage brand and messaging that effectively communicated our campaign, I helped galvanize membership and the public— essential for a historic win.
We’ve never dared to demand Fair Wages / more jobs, which bring more P/H contributions (better benefits), more dues income (better member services), greater diversity, and the chance to make a living.
Dare to demand a new generation who will fight for FAIR; who will not negotiate from FEAR. Vote #FairWageOnCouncil!