LOS ANGELES: Actors’ Equity Association has a new West Coast leader. Gail E. Gabler, an organizer with several years of experience with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Arizona and California, will be the stage actors’ union’s new Western regional director/assistant executive director, effective Monday, December 1, 2014.
“Gail is an accomplished and experienced union leader,” said AEA executive director Mary McColl in a statement. “She will be integral to Equity’s continued work to bring Los Angeles theatre to the forefront and use her organizing and member mobilization skills on behalf of the entire membership in the Western region.”
As Western regional director, Gabler will oversee the union’s operations in 14 states, including collective bargaining, contract administration and staff development, and will supervise a staff of 19. In her capacity as assistant executive director, she’ll be part of the executive team, working alongside three other assistant executive directors and the executive director to implement and support the union’s longterm strategic plan.
At SEIU Local 721 in Los Angeles, she worked as director of staff development and as director of member leadership and action. Prior to moving to L.A., Gabler worked at SEIU Arizona, directing internal organizing and representation for the first six years of that newly formed local union. She also worked as an organizer for SEIU International, leading campaigns in a number of different industry sectors. In addition to her union work, she served as an organizer for National Organization for Women, ran successful get-out-the-vote efforts and was instrumental in the passage of early childhood legislation in Illinois.
Gabler, who succeeds Ralph Remington in the post, takes the job at a time when the Los Angeles theatre scene, in particular, is in the midst of intense discussions about the status of the 99-Seat Plan—one of the least restrictive semi-waivers in the nation, by which union members are allowed to work onstage for small stipends in houses with fewer than 100 seats. A recent Equity meeting highlighted dramatic differences of opinion on the subject, and a survey was recently sent out to gather the views of Western members on all levels of union contracts and codes.
Equity seems to have made the West Coast a renewed priority, spending $1.5 million to acquire and renovate new Western region headquarters on Tujunga Blvd. in North Hollywood. The new facility opened in September.