The Department for Professional Employees (DPE) and its 12 affiliated unions in arts, entertainment and media have announced an updated diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policy agenda with the intention of proposing legislation to Congress. Among the 12 unions involved are four with Broadway ties: Actors’ Equity Association, the American Federation of Musicians, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
DPE released its inaugural agenda on DEI policy in 2021. It focuses on generating diverse talent pipelines, pushing diversity in hiring and strengthening workplace rights.
“The updated DEI policy agenda for the 118th Congress allows union creative professionals to continue building off gains made in collective bargaining that provide for more inclusive, representative industries,” said DPE president Jennifer Dorning in a statement.
The new agenda classifies priorities in four areas: 1) providing fair wages and benefits; 2) addressing systemic barriers to careers in the arts, entertainment and media; 3) increasing funding; and 4) encouraging diverse hiring.
Specifically, the DPE urges Congress to pass acts that ensure the right to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace (called the PRO Act), grant more performers the ability to deduct essential work expenses from taxes (the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act), allow employees to hold their employers accountable for unlawful conduct (the Restoring Justice for Workers Act) and fairly compensate musicians for radio plays and more (the American Fairness Act). The coalition also wants support for copyright reforms, aimed at combating content theft by amending Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The DPE also advocates for the passage of the CROWN Act and the Equality Act. Additionally, the coalition urges that people, specifically union members in this case, be able to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions and that federal financial aid be granted to make workplaces safe and accessible for all.
Moreover, the agenda pushes for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. DPE also wants to create a system to report about hiring processes for grant recipients. Finally, DPE aims for Congress to establish an incubator grant program specifically for those underrepresented to pursue creative projects and network with industry professionals.
Finally, DPE is asking that Congress identify diversity requirements for federal tax incentives that will encourage more inclusive hiring in film, television and live entertainment.
“The arts, entertainment, and media industries are becoming more diverse and inclusive thanks to the efforts of union professionals at the bargaining table and in the halls of power,” Dorning said. “However, we realize this work is not finished, which is why we remain committed to pushing for smart policy solutions that will help continue to move the creative industries forward and allow creative professionals of historically marginalized communities to realize the full value of their skills and talents.”