More Comments from the Actors' Equity Facebook Page...
Again, East Coast member, Saum Eskandani, absolutely kills it with this comment on the Equity Facebook page. When our East Coast brothers and sisters get wise and step up like this enmasse, it may actually cause a turn in this tide. But as I’ve said many times before, the only real action that will force them to pay attention is a mass exodus from their union. Why? Because it is and always has been about money. Rip about ten thousand members’ worth of dues out of their coffers and watch how quickly and attentively they start listening.
Oh, and I won’t be surprised if they start removing comments like this off their page. Gotta stay on message!
But even if they do, here’s Saum Eskandani’s comment in full for posterity:
Dear Equity, while your statement that you “defend” the “process” of the councils actions is, I suppose, reasonable, I’m afraid your adherence to the process set down in the 1989 Settlement agreement is nothing more than lip service to an agreement that avoided just this kind of litigation in the past. When the Los Angeles County Members in Good Standing vote OVERWHELMINGLY 2,046 to 1,075 against their union’s plan, which is enough support, I might add, for a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT in this country, I think its is hardly surprising that you have found yourself in the position you are in. You may indeed defend your “process,” because the terms of the settlement in which local members are provided a chance to debate and vote on changes were non-binding and were meant to serve largely as a warning beacon. You may not, however, defend your substance. You chose to ignore your members in precisely the way that brought the lawsuit filed in 1989 in the first place, and you have found yourself in the same position again. I agree, this WILL be costly, so I suggest you revisit the findings of Los Angeles Review Committee and the overwhelming majority of the counties members, otherwise, I’m afraid this New Yorker has no choice but to support the suit against you. You are not representing the will of your members. You are not grasping the very clear picture they are painting for you of the landscape of LA theatre. And the alternatives you claim to offer, under 50 seat houses, and membership companies are not viable within the context of that community. The 99 seat theatre plan as it stands is one of the SHORTEST Agreements available. This is surprising given the obvious nuance of the LA theatre community. It seems, honestly, to be lazy. They get minimum wage. Period. End of Contract. Read a SETA contract, then read the 99 seat theatre contract. The Epic SETA contract was exhaustively written, against the will of most members, to cater to producers. And includes many general mechanisms for potential wage development that LA members seem to support for a 99 seat plan. But such ideas were a non starter. Any contract that did not begin at minimum wage was a non-starter. New Yorkers work on so many equity contracts for less than minimum wage that this is almost laughable. There is more than one way to develop theatre in this country, there is more than one way to try and grow a profit from art without debilitating upfront cost. In New York, we allow multi million dollar shows to be developed without an audience and the actors receive next to nothing, no right of refusal, no minimum wage. Why? Because there is no audience? Should we not be exploring ways to cheaply develop new work WITH an audience? Can you consider for a moment that this may actually be GOOD for theatre? Comedians do it. Musicians do it. But in theatre we can only work cheaply if we work in private. This seems close minded to the evolving landscape of American theatre. Come back to the table and settle this NOW, there is a better Agreement to be written, otherwise, I’ll happily continue to pay my union dues to cover the legal fees of this suit, and hope, in the end, the more reasonable side wins. I leave you with the familiar words of Sophocles from the play Antigone: “Wear not, then, one mood only in thyself; think not that thy word, and thine alone, must be right. For if any man thinks that he alone is wise—that in speech, or in mind, he hath no peer—such a soul, when laid open, is ever found empty. No, though a man be wise, ‘tis no shame for him to learn many things, and to bend in season. Seest thou, beside the wintry torrent’s course, how the trees that yield to it save every twig, while the stiff-necked perish root and branch? And even thus he who keeps the sheet of his sail taut, and never slackens it, upsets the boat, and finishes his voyage with keel uppermost. Nay, forego thy wrath; permit thyself to change. For if I, a younger man, may offer my thought, it were far best, I ween, that men should be all-wise by nature; but, otherwise—and oft the scale inclines not so—’tis good also to learn from those who speak aright.”