Labor Union

Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)

This is a logo for Actors' Equity Association. (link)
Website:

www.actorsequity.org

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-0413995

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $19,509,873
Expenses: $21,157,945
Assets: $54,160,051

Formation:

May 26, 1913

Headquarters:

New York, NY

President:

Kate Shindle

Membership:

Approx. 50,000 (2015)

Actors’ Equity Association, often referred to as “Actor’s Equity” or “Equity,” is a labor union for live stage performers and stage managers. The is a member of the AFL-CIO union federation.[1]

Equity supported health care reform efforts under the Obama Administration, including Obamacare, and then removed older members from their health insurance plan once Obamacare plans were available. The older members were displeased by the change.[2] [3]

While Equity had never officially endorsed a presidential candidate prior to the 2016 presidential election, in that race it endorsed Hillary Clinton as the alternative to Donald Trump.[4]

History

Beginnings

The Actors’ Equity Association (often referred to as “Equity” or “Actors’ Equity”) formed in 1913 as a labor union. It represents live performers and stage managers in collective bargaining with theatrical organizations. It joined the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1919; it remains a part of the AFL-CIO, the successor to the AFL.[5]

Union Activities

Actors Equity sought and used government help in contract negotiations. As theater is a significant part of the New York economy and tax base, the union has historically been influential in New York City politics. A number of New York City mayors (Robert Wagner,[6] John Lindsay,[7] and Michael Bloomberg[8]) have intervened in stalled contract negotiations because Equity’s strikes closed the theaters. Equity’s contracts improved significantly after these negotiations. In 2004, Equity members sought help from Congress in unionizing non-Equity touring Broadway shows.[9] Equity still seeks to unionize the tours.[10]

Actors’ Equity has obtained generous government benefits for their members. In the late 1970s, Actors’ Equity, alongside other arts and entertainment industry labor unions, partnered with the New York City government under Mayor Abe Beame (D-N.Y.) to establish a subsidized housing complex under the federal subsidized Section 8 program at Manhattan Plaza primarily for performing artists.[11] Performers paid only one-fourth of their income, however small, for rent.[12]

Equity later secured New York State subsidies for COBRA health insurance payments for unemployed actors. COBRA payments are typically the responsibility of someone who quits or loses a job.[13]

In 2015, Equity changed the 99 Seat rule in Los Angeles which had exempted “micro-theaters” from paying Equity actors minimum wage for rehearsals and performances.[14] Equity’s leadership, including Executive Director Mary McColl, disregarded a two-to-one vote by the affected actors who wanted the 99-seat rule to remain as it was.[15] The actors’ position was that the small theaters couldn’t afford to pay the $10.50 per hour minimum wage and they were willing to work for the small stipend they had been receiving.[16]

Political Activities

Authoritarian Regimes

Actors’ Equity has a mixed record defending the principles of free artistic expression under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. In 1933, Equity formally protested the banning of Jewish performers in Nazi Germany.[17] In 1987, Equity protested death threats against 77 Chilean actors by right-wing groups allied with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.[18] [19] No reports of Equity protesting similar treatment of actors in communist regimes, such as China[20] or the Soviet Union exist.[21]

In 1964, Actors’ Equity participated in a workshop with the Moscow Art Theater.[22] Beginning in 1977, Actors’ Equity, primarily through the union’s vice president Barbara Colton, began a series of exchange visits with the Soviet Union’s Cultural Workers’ Union. Colton hosted delegations from the Soviet Union and took Equity members and her students on several trips to the Soviet Union after initially refusing due to Soviet persecution of Jews. In 1989, Colton and Sergei Seliverstov, formed the nonprofit TheaterBridge to bring American tourists to countries with different social, political, and economic systems.[23]

Obamacare

Equity was a very early supporter of President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare), seeking a government-controlled single-payer system or at least a public option. [24] It gave its members numerous updates about the progress of the legislation[25] and urged them to support Obamacare in its final form.[/note][26] Once Obamacare went into effect, Equity dropped their older members off Equity’s health insurance because of the availability of Obamacare. Several members did not agree with this as the Obamacare plans were inferior to the Equity health insurance plan.[27]

2011 Wisconsin Budget Protests

Actors’ Equity participated in the 2011 protests of Wisconsin Act 10, the “Budget Repair Bill” championed by Governor Scott Walker because it limited or eliminate the collective bargaining rights of various groups of Wisconsin state and municipal employees. [28] [29]

2016 General Election

Actors’ Equity had not officially endorsed any candidate for office until it chose to endorse Democrat Hillary Clinton for President in 2016, in opposition to Republican Donald Trump’s positions on union privileges, education funding, and gun rights.[30]

Leadership

Kate Shindle has been the president of Actors’ Equity since 2015. She is a former Miss America (1998) and a working actress.[31]

Mary McColl has been executive director of Equity since 2011. Prior to that, she worked in administrative and executive positions for arts organizations for several years.[32]

Funders

Actors’ Equity is funded primarily through member dues, initiation fees, and investment income.[33]

References

  1. About Actors’ Equity Association.” Actors’ Equity Association. Accessed May 18, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/AboutEquity/aboutequityhome.asp.
  2. AEA News | AEA Health Care Initiative – Take Action.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/NewsMedia/news2009/aug3.healthcarealert.asp.
  3. ara, Christopher. “Older Broadway Actors Booted From Equity-League Health Plan In Obamacare Fallout.” International Business Times. October 28, 2014. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.ibtimes.com/older-broadway-actors-booted-equity-league-health-plan-obamacare-fallout-1714181.
  4. Equity Votes to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President | Actors’ Equity Association News.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. August 30, 2016. Accessed May 15, 2018. www.actorsequity.org/NewsMedia/news2016/EquityVotesToEndorseClinton.asp.
  5. Historical Overview.” Actors’ Equity Association. 2018. Accessed May 11, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/AboutEquity/historicaloverview.asp.
  6. AEA Timeline | First Years.” Actors’ Equity Association. 2013. Accessed May 11, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/AboutEquity/timeline/timeline_1960.html.
  7. hane, Rachel. “Inciting the Rank and File: The Impact of Actors’ Equity and Labor Strike.” Arts Management Journal, January 2015. Accessed May 11, 2018. http://www.artsmanagementjournal.com/resources/January_2015/Inciting the Rank and File – Jan 2015.pdf.
  8. ogrebin, Robin. “THE THEATER WALKOUT: OVERVIEW; MAYOR INTERVENES IN THEATER STRIKE.” The New York Times. March 11, 2003. Accessed May 11, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/11/us/the-theater-walkout-overview-mayor-intervenes-in-theater-strike.html.
  9. DPE NewsLine – March 2004.” Department for Professional Employees/AFL-CIO. March 2004. Accessed May 14, 2018. http://dpeaflcio.org/news/dpe-newsline/dpe-newsline-archive/2004-dpe-newsline-issues/dpe-newsline-march-2004/.
  10. Every Time You Buy a Ticket for a Broadway Tour: Ask If It’s Equity.” Ask If It’s Equity. Accessed May 21, 2018. http://askifitsequity.com/.
  11. vins, Molly. “HOUSING FOR ACTORS UNDER FINAL STUDY.” The New York Times. December 12, 1976. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/1976/12/12/archives/housing-for-actors-under-final-study-manhattan-plaza-decision-is.html.
  12. ianga, Keli A. “Miracle on 42nd Street: A Tale of Artist Housing.” Shelterforce. January 3, 2018. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://shelterforce.org/2018/01/03/miracle-on-42nd-street-a-tale-of-artists-housing/.
  13. GOVERNOR SIGNS LAW ASSISTING ENTERTAINERS WITH HEALTH BENEFITS.” Department of Financial Services. September 23, 2004. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://www.dfs.ny.gov/insurance/press/p0409242.htm.
  14. el Barco, Mandalit. “Actors’ Equity Implements $9 Minimum Wage For LA’s Small Theaters.” NPR. April 22, 2015. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://www.npr.org/2015/04/22/401540539/actors-equity-implements-9-minimum-wage-for-las-small-theaters.
  15. orris, Steven Leigh. “L.A. Actors Don’t Want Their Union’s New Plan. The Union Doesn’t Care.” L.A. Weekly. April 02, 2016. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.laweekly.com/arts/la-actors-dont-want-their-unions-new-plan-the-union-doesnt-care-5519115.
  16. ubinstein, John. “John Rubinstein to Actors Equity – “We Are Fighting for Our Lives”.” I Love 99. February 17, 2017. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://ilove99.org/2017/02/17/john-rubinstein-letter-to-actors-equity-fighting-for-our-lives/.
  17. AEA Timeline | 1930’s.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/AboutEquity/timeline/timeline_1930.html.
  18. ehren, Elizabeth. “Reeve’s Real-Life Human-Rights Role in Chile: Superman Moved to Give Moral Support to Threatened Actors.” Los Angeles Times. December 30, 1987. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://articles.latimes.com/1987-12-30/entertainment/ca-21719_1_human-rights.
  19. AEA Timeline | 1980’s.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/AboutEquity/timeline/timeline_1980.html.
  20. heng, Nien. Life and Death in Shanghai. New York: Grove Press, 1987.
  21. erlin, Isaiah. “The Arts in Russia Under Stalin.” The New York Review of Books. October 19, 2000. Accessed May 22, 2018. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2000/10/19/the-arts-in-russia-under-stalin/.
  22. SOVIET VISITORS TALK TO EQUITY ON ACTING.” The New York Times. November 28, 1964. Accessed May 22, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/1964/11/28/soviet-visitors-talk-to-equity-on-acting.html?mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=0EB91802AE90B1676AAB733A1CAF6820&gwt=pay.
  23. olton, Barbara. “Russia.” Barbara Colton. Accessed May 22, 2018. http://www.barbaracolton.info/russia_2.html.
  24. AEA Timeline | 2009.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/AboutEquity/timeline/timeline_2009.html.
  25. News & Media: AEA Healthcare Update Archives.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/NewsMedia/news2008/healthcarearchive.asp.
  26. AEA News | AEA Health Care Initiative – Take Action.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/NewsMedia/news2009/aug3.healthcarealert.asp.
  27. ara, Christopher. “Older Broadway Actors Booted From Equity-League Health Plan In Obamacare Fallout.” International Business Times. October 28, 2014. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.ibtimes.com/older-broadway-actors-booted-equity-league-health-plan-obamacare-fallout-1714181.
  28. yman, Nick. “From the President: Marching in Madison.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. March 24, 2011. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/AboutEquity/president_archive9.asp.
  29. isconsin Act 10, the “Scott Walker Budget Repair Bill” (2011). Ballotpedia. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://ballotpedia.org/Wisconsin_Act_10,_the_%22Scott_Walker_Budget_Repair_Bill%22_(2011).
  30. Equity Votes to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President | Actors’ Equity Association News.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. August 30, 2016. Accessed May 15, 2018. www.actorsequity.org/NewsMedia/news2016/EquityVotesToEndorseClinton.asp.
  31. obb, David. “Actors’ Equity Has A New President As Kate Shindle Unseats Nick Wyman.” Deadline Hollywood. May 21, 2015. Accessed May 07, 2018. http://deadline.com/2015/05/kate-shindle-actors-equity-president-defeats-nick-wyman-1201431243/.
  32. MARY McCOLL NAMED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DESIGNEE OF ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION | Actors’ Equity Association.” Actors’ Equity Association History and Awards. 2010. Accessed May 18, 2018. http://www.actorsequity.org/NewsMedia/news2010/nov11.McColl.asp.
  33. ctors’ Equity Association, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014.
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: March - February
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 1994

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Mar Form 990 $19,509,873 $21,157,945 $54,160,051 $29,779,755 N $115,386 $16,441,228 $477,548 $941,993 PDF
    2014 Mar Form 990 $19,286,375 $20,041,521 $54,856,596 $26,561,343 N $0 $15,737,151 $510,132 $1,561,199 PDF
    2013 Mar Form 990 $17,886,275 $21,324,548 $53,124,062 $28,856,754 N $0 $15,341,501 $598,887 $630,808 PDF
    2012 Mar Form 990 $16,978,027 $23,274,687 $48,695,588 $24,930,429 N $15,545,837 $0 $719,321 $398,977 PDF
    2011 Mar Form 990 $18,606,386 $17,974,344 $48,779,548 $18,872,044 N $15,549,413 $0 $853,649 $185,651 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)

    165 WEST 46TH STREET 15TH FLR
    NEW YORK, NY 10036-2508