Why Should I Join Actors' Equity?
The Actors' Equity Association (AEA) is the performing arts union representing more than 51,000 professional stage actors and stage managers in the United States. Equity provides a wide range of benefits by negotiating wages, working conditions, and providing health and pension plans for its members.
Who runs Actors’ Equity?
As a representative democracy, Equity is governed by members, for members. Its chief policy-making and governing body, the National Council, is elected by the membership and composed of working actors and stage managers. Equity Officers and Councillors serve without compensation.
How Can I Join Actors’ Equity?
Actors may join the Association by virtue of employment under an Equity contract, by virtue of prior membership in a performing arts sister union (SAG-AFTRA, AGMA, AGVA or GIAA) or through the Equity Membership Program.
Deciding when to join the union is up to you and your prerogative. However, once you become a member of the union, you are entitled to two categories of benefits: Contract Benefits and Membership Benefits.
AEA Contract Benefits
Equity has fought time and again for the dignity of the performer. Prior to the stage union, most actors worked without contract or security of any kind. Today, the union works diligently to negotiate contract rates, minimum salaries, ensure overtime pay and extra pay for additional duties. Free Housing is always provided on contract, and per diem is included on tour.
Equity also requires most producers to post a bond to ensure payment; even if a show closes or a producer defaults, you still get paid and won’t get stranded.
Strict work rules are enforced on all Equity contracts, including length of day, breaks in between rehearsal periods, days off, and safe and sanitary conditions.
Unless otherwise noted, most Equity contracts provide Health Insurance, Pension and 401(k). Hospital and medical benefits are provided by CIGNA (Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, also known as the Medical Plan). Prescription drug benefits are provided by ProAct. An optical plan, administered by Davis Vision, provides eye coverage. Dental coverage is available to participants on a voluntary self-pay basis through CIGNA.
And if you are ever injured on the job, Supplemental Workers' Comp Insurance provides additional compensation over-and-above Workers' Comp.
AEA Membership Benefits
Equity ensures Professional Name Protection, prohibiting the issuing of a professional name that is identical (or similar sounding) to that of an already-current member of the union.
Tax assistance is provided through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. The VITA Program prepares and files your tax returns when you are seen – on an appointment or walk-in basis.
Member Discounts include classes, workshops, fitness centers and gyms, hotels and restaurants, salons and spas, studios and rehearsal spaces, subscriptions and tickets, etc.
Seminars and Special Events on the business of Broadway, taxes, producing, and more are held throughout the year for Equity members. Free flu shots are regularly administered.
Equity members have auditions access to over a thousand auditions per year. Equity has negotiated required auditions for principal and chorus performers. More than 1,300 audition notices are posted on Equity’s website annually. Equity’s Casting Call, accessed through the Member Portal website, is focused on accessibility and signing up for auditions with ease. For members on the road, members out of town or even for those sitting at home, Casting Call is a member feature that is dedicated to making searching for a job a lot easier. Not only are you able to sign up for Equity Chorus Calls and Equity Principal auditions, but you have the option to save notices you’re interested in and add upcoming auditions directly to your calendar.
Equity sets terms and regulations for agents that protect our members and standardizes conditions such as a commission schedule, termination agreements and more.
Members receive access to the Equity News magazine, the official magazine of Actors' Equity Association. Currently published quarterly, Equity News has been around in a variety of formats since 1915.
Union membership also includes access to service organizations like The Actors Fund, Actors Federal Credit Union, Union Plus and AFL-CIO. These organizations offer a host of additional resources such as emergency assistance, seminars, career counseling, low cost financial services, loans and discounts.
One of the most important benefits of Equity membership that is often overlooked is the experience and knowledge of the Equity staff. Equity's Business Representatives enforce each member's individual contract provisions and riders. They monitor safety conditions, administer Equity's agreements with franchised agents and assist members with work-related issues like unemployment and Workers' Compensation claims.
Equity's staff is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the Principal, Chorus and Stage Managers' contracts. Members should call the nearest Equity office and speak to a staff person whenever questions arise.
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