Actors’ Equity Association Votes to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President
New York City, August 30, 2016 – In an historic decision, the National Council of Actors’ Equity Association (Equity), the labor union representing professional stage actors and stage managers, voted during its August meeting to endorse the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, Hillary Clinton. This marks the first time in Equity’s 103-year history that the organization has endorsed any political candidate.
Though the union’s practice has uniformly been to remain neutral with regard to elections, throughout its history Equity has taken strong positions and adopted numerous policies meant to help provide a voice to the disenfranchised of this country.
Advising the Council, Equity’s Executive Director Mary McColl said, “If you look back at your history, you have taken political stands on many occasions. You have been leaders and staked out political positions opposing blacklisting and segregation; you have marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You have stood up and led the charge at key moments when society had tears in the fabric. I think this is one of those moments in time when you must stand again.”
“What do people actually look to the union for?” asked Councillor Francis Jue. “This election is about whether people can carry guns into theaters, about whether or not people can take adolescent gay and lesbian teens and torture them into believing that they are straight. It’s about whether or not we are going to have a Department of Education. This election is about so many of the values we believe in and policies that we put into practice. I think it is incumbent upon us to lead.”
The union’s core values are workers’ rights, fair pay and a safe workplace free from discrimination for its members. Additionally, Equity has long-standing policies that promote arts funding and education, affordable housing, single-payer health care and marriage equality. Equity continues to advocate for human rights, on behalf of those with HIV/AIDS and for voting rights for all Americans. Most recently, Council authorized the union to support responsible gun law reform.
Equity President Kate Shindle said, “Our union has historically chosen to remain nonpartisan and above the fray. But at such a critical time in our country’s history, this union does not have that luxury if we hope to protect our members. We have to fight with everything we have for our survival. God forbid we stand passively on the sidelines and watch as some of these people get elected, people who aggressively want to dismantle unions. We will look back at this moment knowing that we could have said something and we chose not to because we were afraid people wouldn’t like it. I don’t think that’s the way a union in 2016 America can afford to operate.”