Deputies play a key role in building Equity’s industrial power Our industrial power is strength in numbers. It enables us to bargain for better pay, terms and conditions collectively as a group.
If you have been elected as an Equity dep, your fellow deps have put together a handy list of advice to get you started:
Have a team
On a big show, it’s really useful to be able to spread the workload. On our show, we have a team reflecting the wide diversity of demographics and roles within the company, which has allowed us personal insight into many of the issues we’ve had to deal with.
Use Whatsapp wisely
Establish WhatsApp groups for both the Deps’ team and for the Equity members on the production. From experience, it’s a good idea to restrict posts on the company one to the Deps - multiple responses can bury the information you’re trying to get out. It also helps to encourage people to come and find you in person if they have a query or an issue.
Have a Stage Management dep. Again, having someone with knowledge of that particular area has been invaluable, and led directly to a number of current and former members of the stage management team on the show receiving payouts for a misapplied buyout.
Open Channel with Company Management
Establish an open channel with both Company Management and line producers. There are exceptionally good and exceptionally bad CMs - in the latter case, having a direct relationship with the line producer is incredibly useful.
If you suspect that something may come up as an issue, take it to management before it does.
Persistence pays off
Be polite, but firm and persistent. If you’re in the right, don’t get diverted. Which leads us to...
Know the Agreement
Know the Agreement. A good working knowledge of it will help enormously in dealings with management, but will also make you more useful to members! The key things to have at your fingertips will be hours of work, breaks, overtime, holidays, incapacity pay, but it never hurts to get the book out every now and again and refresh your knowledge about a particular schedule! A physical copy is invaluable.
Sell your union
We are always having the ‘What does the union do for me?’ conversation. Two good responses are -
1. Say that the union is an ‘us’ not a ‘them’ and that we are more powerful together
2. simply do the job of a dep thoroughly and visibly - when people see results, and know that they have come via pressure from their union representatives, it’s persuasive.