My name is Bradley King; I’m a lighting designer working primarily in theater, opera, and live performance.
Up until about two years ago, I used to think about “the union” as if it were just some entity I sent money to every quarter. But thanks to the organizing efforts of the Off-Broadway committee, I came to witness firsthand the power of a few committed individuals to effect profound change in our industry. I realized that there is no daylight between the union and its membership. I volunteered, engaged, and recruited others to get involved. I’ve now proudly served on three negotiating committees (Broadway, LORT, and helped charter the new Off-Broadway CBA), written a plain-English guide to the USA829 pension, and created the nascent Paid Family Leave committee, exploring ways to bring paid family leave to our freelance members who aren’t eligible for most states' PFL programs.
I’m running for Local Union Executive Board because I believe we are a stronger union when we as members are engaged, passionate, and never satisfied with the status quo. Today, unions everywhere are under attack from legislation that threatens our legitimacy, but I believe ours operates from a position of relative strength; we owe that position to the talents of our members, the quality of our work, and our dedicated leadership who fight so hard for us year after, contract after contract. But I also believe we CAN and NEED to do better.
Here are just a few of my platforms:
EXPANSION & EDI
Growth is imperative to the future of our union. We need to increase our membership to survive, and we ESPECIALLY need a radical increase in underrepresented designers and artists. We need to make membership more affordable, we need to organize underrepresented cities like Boston, and we need to make a conscientious effort to engage and then SUPPORT minority artists who wouldn't otherwise think of career in our field as sustainable. I think the newly-formed USA829 Diversity Committee is a badly needed and long overdue step, and I'm excited for the opportunity to support their work.
We also need to provide opportunities for minority artists and designers to get their foot in rooms to which they'd otherwise be denied access. The SDC Foundation's observer & fellowship programs are a brilliant model, and I would love to see USA829 work to create and charter similar programs.
Most importantly, we need to fiercely and unrelentingly protect our youngest and most vulnerable members. Whether that's through fighting to expand our coverage of assistant designers, financial considerations (like more frequent organizing drives or a young-member's rate), or responsibly lowering the barrier to pension qualification, we are stronger when we stick together and protect EVERYONE, regardless of whether you're an industrial in a shop, a costume designer working off-Broadway, or an art director on a prestige HBO drama.
strength and stability
Thanks to our incredible business agents and trustees, our union occupies a rock-solid financial position with ironclad contracts, enviable benefits, and fiscally prudent operations. Our pension plan is the crown jewel of helping our members plan for a comfortable retirement, and the business office enforces our contracts fiercely and rigorously. We must do everything we can to ensure the continued financial success of our union to ensure our survival long into the future, and continuing to grow the USA829 building fund will help provide badly needed protection from the vagaries of New York City rental market.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE & QUALITY OF LIFE
Members shouldn't have to choose between having a family and having a career. As the father to two young daughters (a 3 year old and a 5 month old), I know how exhausting a six hour turnaround can be. I will continue to fight not just for financial gains, but also quality of life gains as well: shorter spans-of-day, longer turnaround times, and especially paid family leave to care for new babies and sick relatives.
Absent needed action from the federal government, states are finally beginning to roll out paid family leave policies: programs that replace lost income when you have to take time off to care for a newborn child or sick relative. However, freelancers (like the majority of our members) are excluded from participating in most of these plans, and the few that allow freelancers impose heavy additional financial costs. That's why I think USA829 needs a paid family leave policy for ALL its members, and I'm proud to have formed the PFL committee to tackle this very problem.
ENGAGEMENT & EDUCATION
Informed, engaged, and active members are our Union's strongest asset. We have stop thinking about "the Union" as some amorphous monolith...the UNION is US. I wrote the plain-english guide to the USA829 pension plan when it was clear so few of us knew how it worked; we need to make sure every member knows about their benefits, their contracts, and their rights. We should expand classes like the hugely successful "Know Your Contracts" to other topics and platforms, including streaming options for those who cannot attend meetings in person.
FIGHTING FOR YOU
These are a few of my priorities, but most importantly, I want to fight for YOURS. If elected, I promise to do whatever I can to make sure your concerns, questions, and issues always have a voice in front of the Local's leadership. I would be proud to represent you on the LUEB.