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A Nonunion Voice Disappointed in Vote

As a non-Equity actor, I feel the plight of the union in the article "Canadian Equity Tackles Tours" (Back Stage, Page 1, July 11). Susan Wallace, the head of Canadian Equity, "complained that the nonunion tours' salaries for actors were 'ludicrously low' while ticket prices were selling full out." If Susan was ever an actor and had to work without the protection of a union, she would know that the actors don't like working for "ludicrously low" wages.

On a same note Alan Eisenberg said, "These non-Equity tours exploit the talents of nonunion performers while dollar as part of a Broadway subscription series."

They both could not have gotten it more correct, although in most nonunion tours I know of, the actors are treated very well. We are just not paid what we are worth. We accept "$450" a week because we need to work. The problem is that by taking these jobs, we hurt the union we want to join. We are stuck between wanting jobs, and compromising the integrity of a union we don't belong to, but desperately need.

Equity's fight is with the producers, not the actors. We are trying to make our living just like those in the union, and we have to take what they give us.

I would also subscribe that the tours don't want to deal with all the red tape of Equity. I also subscribe that Equity should let all actors join. That way, it becomes a very powerful union. It has all actors behind her. All contracts are union, and people don't have to be afraid to take a job for $100 a week. They won't have to.

Gail Frankel

Secaucus, N.J.

Even though the SAG/AFTRA vote is over, I still find it necessary to put my two cents in.

I was disappointed with the results of the vote on several levels. But the one glaring reason to consolidate seemed to be the least important reason on too many people's minds! Power! It is mind-blowing to look at the economic realities of the world today, and that includes the entertainment industry. If you work in TV, film, radio, and yes, more and more, even theatre, you are basically working for one of six producing companies! And with the recent FCC ruling, this number will undoubtedly become even smaller. Large companies are merging all the time to garner more power and control over their products. Yet, for some reason, actors cannot come together in a unified body to gain more power and control over our product...namely ourselves! All the silly name-calling between unions, ex-SAG leadership calling AFTRA a "crummy little union," people worried there might be fewer jobs if the unions merged! I think this is pretty self-centered and shortsighted thinking.

There is power in numbers; that is why unions started to begin with. So now we have and will continue to have actors split among three different unions and we will be working for more powerful and fewer producers. I am not looking forward to how our power as actors will be divided and reduced. And this, to me, is the main issue of union consolidation.

David Downie


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