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Breaking news, press releases and statements from the Writers Guild of America, East

Thursday May 14, 2009

The Stars Come Out in Support of the Employee Free Choice Act


     The Stars Come Out in Support of Employee Free Choice Act                                                          

( Washington , May 14)  The stars of stage and screen – actors, musicians, Broadway performers, comedians, writers and crew – are coming out in support of the Employee Free Choice Act through a new online video called “Artists4WorkersChoice.”  Many have Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Tony awards and nominations, and they have one thing in common – they’re all union members, and they all share the experience of working every day for a living, struggling to find jobs and pay the bills.

“People associate actors with fame and glory. The truth is for a long time my union contract was the reason I could support my family. That’s why I support the Employee Free Choice Act,” said television star Amy Brenneman. “Because each worker, regardless of their field, deserves the freedom to bargain for a contract, for a better life.”

The Employee Free Choice Act is legislation pending before Congress that would give workers back the freedom to bargain with corporations for fair wages and better benefits by forming unions. It would also create harsher penalties for corporations who violate workers’ freedom and provide a path to good faith bargaining so workers can get a first contract after they form a union.

The video features 47 veteran, award-winning performers.  As debate on the Employee Free Choice Act heats up in Washington , the performers made the video to make sure people understand this is an issue that affects everyone in America .

In the video, the performers say, “This is not a red state issue. Or a blue state issue.  It’s a workers’ issue. Please join me, and working people everywhere in supporting a real change in labor law because it’s time the economy worked for everyone.”

“Union contracts give workers the freedom to bargain with their employers for better wages and benefits, regardless of their profession,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “Today’s performers are standing with construction workers and teachers and nurses to call for the Employee Free Choice Act and declare that all workers deserve the freedom to form a union and bargain for a better life.”

“I’ve belonged to three unions in my life and every one gave me the freedom to bargain with my coworkers for decent hours, benefits, and safe conditions,” said veteran actor and comedian Jerry Stiller. “If all workers don’t have the freedom to form unions, I don’t see how we can fix our economy.”

The presidents of all the participating unions released a statement praising the effort: “The members of all our unions are standing together to support the Employee Free Choice Act because we know that if workers don’t have the freedom to bargain, it affects all of us — our livelihoods, our rights as professionals and our strength to create an economy that works for all.”

The video was developed by Actors’ Equity Association; the American Federation of Musicians; the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA); the Directors Guild of America (DGA); International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE); Screen Actors Guild (SAG); Writers Guild of America, East; Writers Guild of America, West; and the AFL-CIO.

The full list of participants is: F. Murray Abraham, Polly Adams, David Alan Basche, P.J. Benjamin, Amy Brenneman, Kate Burton, Gabrielle Carteris, James Cromwell, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, John Cunningham, Emilio Delgado, Andre De Shields, Kevin Dobson, Mike Farrell, Sam Freed, Ed Fry, Jason George, Nancy Giles, Elliott Gould, Holter Graham, Valerie Harper, Don Hastings, Gregory Jbara, Anne-Marie Johnson, S. Marc Jordan, Kevin Kilner, Michele Lee, Kate Linder, James Lurie, Richard Masur, Anne Meara, Esai Morales, Robert Newman, Kathleen Noone, Nancy Opel, Robert Pine, Roberta Reardon, Sam Robards, Alan Rosenberg, Ned Schmidtke, Charles Shaughnessy, Chris Shiflett, Kate Shindle, Connie Stevens, Jerry Stiller, Paul F. Tompkins and Mark Zimmerman.

Tim Carvell of Writers Guild of America, East and Luvh Rakhe of Writers Guild of America, West helped write the script. 

The IATSE crew who filmed and edited the video included David Ahuna, Stephanie Angel, Antonio Arroyo, Chris Augustine, Michael Barrow, Glynis Burke, Julia DavisJames P. Dolan, Tom Houghton, Neida C. Martinez, Vince Mata, Lydia Millars, Randy Jon Morgan, Merita Neziri, Russ Norstedt, Edward Rodriguez, Tricia Ronten, Reza Tabrizi, Linda Warrilow and Lisa Wiegand.

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