We are facing an unknown future, as these are unprecedented times for our union and our industry. #FairWage knows that to seek seats on the union’s governing body in a time of such uncertainty—in which virtually none of our members are working, and in which nobody knows when our workplaces will again be deemed safe—must be done with eyes wide open.
Each and every one of the 16 #FairWageOnCouncil candidates acknowledges the precariousness of this moment, and we are eager to tackle the resulting challenges head on.
As we continue to monitor the situation, we’ve been meeting frequently—to share communal space and commiserate like many others, but also in keeping with our values of a blue sky approach to problems. And we’ve asked ourselves “How does the #FairWage movement fit into this current moment in history? How does our ethos help Equity in their role as a key partner in the revival of our industry?”
First and foremost, we lean into FAIRNESS.
The signature achievement of #FairWageOnCouncil to date has been the enactment of Judge It By The Budget, a unanimously-approved Council policy establishing that a not-for-profit employer’s ability to pay our members should be based on a complete look at their finances and circumstances—not just on their ticket sales. While box office revenue was once the dominant source of a theater’s income, times have changed and it was long past due that our contracts changed to reflect that.
Now more than ever, Judge It By The Budget will be able to serve as a crucial tool as we partner with our employers in recovery. Having every instrument at our disposal to assess our employers’ true ability to fairly compensate us will help ensure not only the fair treatment of our stage managers and actors, but the long-term well-being of our industry.
This is why FAIR has always been our first name.
Just as importantly, we will be LEADERS.
Mr. Rogers taught us that in times of crisis we should look for the helpers, and being a helper is at the core of what Councilors should be. Throughout the crisis, we’ve continued leaning into our culture of engagement, hosting #FairWageFridays for members across the country to check in on their well-being during this period of social distance, to help arm them with key information that they may need, and to learn from their unique perspectives about what they are experiencing and envisioning.
#FairWage candidates and core members have been flooding social media with critical information for stage managers and actors nationwide, making sure that they know which staffers to contact at the union if they need help, and what resources are available to them in their communities.
#FairWage Councilor Jimmy Ludwig—Chair of Equity’s Media and New Technology Committee—along with his Vice Chairs (including #FairWage incumbent candidates Nikka Graff Lanzarone and Kellie Overbey) were at the forefront of ensuring that streaming contracts were put in place to protect our members’ interests, while still affording theaters the opportunity to produce the content needed to survive both fiscally and spiritually.
We remain committed to lobbying our local, state, and federal legislators for continued support—for workers broadly, and for the arts in particular—as governmental support will remain critical to the recovery of our industry.
And perhaps above all, we will seek to be well-informed voices of calm, of reason, and of care. Because that’s what leaders should always do.
COVID-19 has created a world that can feel like a scary, isolating place. It’s easy and normal to feel despair. But being in a union means never having to face anything alone, and #FairWage will continue working—for you, for our union, for our industry—exploring every possibility that this uncertain future holds, and molding despair into imaginings of what could be. No matter how dark the moment may seem, a new day means new possibilities.
We will listen. We will collaborate. We will work until we find that light.
We’re artists. It’s what we do.