The Department for Professional Employees, a coalition of Hollywood labor unions affiliated with AFL-CIO, announced on Thursday a new policy agenda to lobby for bills that will promote diverse hiring and inclusion in the entertainment industry.
Among the legislative goals set by the unions is a push to get Congress to consider federal tax incentives for productions that come with diversity requirements, pointing to incentives already applied in states like Illinois and New York that reward productions that hire more women and people of color in front of and behind the camera.
“Tax incentives are important because they create work opportunities for our members that may otherwise go abroad,” the unions wrote in a joint statement. “We know from the state level that tax policy can also offer a “carrot” approach for our industries’ employers to hire more inclusive casts and crew.”
The guilds will also lobby for legislation already introduced in Congress that will protect collective bargaining rights such as the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Restoring Justice for Workers Act, which they say is key to reducing the wage gap that Hollywood workers in marginalized groups have seen compared to white men. The guilds also seek increases in federal arts funding to organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts, the creation of Chief Diversity Officers for those organizations, and the passage of laws like the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act to address workplace racism.
“Diversity is a strength,” said Jennifer Dorning, president of the Department of Professional Employees. “Creative professionals and their unions know this, and continue to prioritize making their industries more accessible to underrepresented people. Advocating for policy changes at the national level is a natural continuation of the work arts, entertainment, and media unions have been doing to advance DEI in their creative industries.”
The unions that took part in the lobbying initiative include the Actors’ Equity Association, American Federation of Musicians, American Guild of Musical Artists, American Guild of Variety Artists, Directors Guild of America, Guild of Italian-American Actors, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Office and Professional Employees International Union, SAG-AFTRA, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and Writers Guild of America East.