Open letter to end gender pay bias in the US gains traction

LOS ANGELES • More than 3,400 people, including some Hollywood celebrities, have signed an open letter urging the American entertainment industry to end gender pay bias.

Two-time Academy Award-winner Jane Fonda; Crazy Rich Asians (2018) producer Nina Jacobson; Love, Simon (2018) writer Isaac Aptaker; and Black Panther (2018) cinematographer Rachel Morrison are among the Hollywood celebrities who have signed the letter.

A total of 3,404 signatures were collected as of yesterday afternoon, according to figures from the Action Network, an online organising platform for progressive causes.

The goal of the movement is to collect 6,400 signatures.

The open letter called on the industry to ensure all productions meet the legal - and moral - requirement to pay fairly without discrimination. "The time has come to take a hard look at how our industry compensates the many thousands of people who work below the line and insist on meaningful changes," the letter said, citing the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

A recent study commissioned by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (Iatse) Local 871, a union representing more than 2,500 production employees, found that significant gender-based wage disparities continue to exist among workers in below-the-line occupations. The study identifies gender stereotyping, job segregation and sexual harassment as factors contributing to gender pay inequality for below-the-line employees.

"It is time for real change. It is no longer acceptable for employees in traditionally female-dominated classifications... to be stuck with low wages that oftentimes make it difficult to make ends meet, especially in expensive cities like Los Angeles," the letter said.

"Nor is it acceptable that - despite the recent changes in state law aimed at closing the wage gap - women (and men) employed in other historically female crafts earn significantly less than their predominantly male counterparts... while performing substantially similar work."

The open letter is endorsed by the Iatse Local 871 and other groups such as the National Partnership for Women & Families, the National Women's Law Center, Women In Film and Women In Media.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2018, with the headline Open letter to end gender pay bias in the US gains traction. Subscribe