NEW YORK CITY: For the first time in its 60-year history, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) has endorsed a presidential candidate, announcing today the union is endorsing Joe Biden in his 2020 bid for the presidency. This announcement follows unanimous approval from SDC’s 34-member executive board and support from a union-wide poll.
“It has become increasingly clear in this time of national crisis that the union must take strong action to protect and advance the interests of our members,” said SDC president Evan Yionoulis in a statement. “Today’s endorsement is an important step in our political engagement toward that end.”
The endorsement was reported during a July 20 membership meeting by the SDC political engagement committee, led by co-chairs Anne Bogart and Lisa Portes. The committee was originally formed by then-president Pam MacKinnon after the Nov. 14, 2016 annual membership meeting. MacKinnon was inspired by the beliefs of past president Susan Schulman that labor unions best serve their purpose to protect the rights of workers when they are engaged politically. The responsibilities of the committee were escalated this year with the upcoming presidential election as well as the pandemic and calls for racial justice in the country.
“We are living in extraordinary, destabilizing times,” said Portes in a statement. “As we try to position ourselves for an uncertain future, it is clear that the candidate whose platform aligns most directly with our union’s agenda and provides the greatest ability for us each to advocate for a just and equitable field is Joe Biden.”
The committee has also worked this year to support the CARES Act, advocate for COBRA subsidies, encourage absentee voting during the pandemic, and urge senators to vote for the HEROES Act to extend pandemic unemployment assistance. Throughout the election season, the committee will continue to work to protect the rights of all citizens to vote and encourage the union’s members to engage locally and nationally with candidates and causes that strengthen communities, unions, and arts and culture.
“Given the union’s history of not making political endorsements,” said SDC executive director Laura Penn, “this is a decision the executive board did not take lightly. But current realities demand that we rise up as one and protect not only our livelihoods, but the very well-being of our members, their families, and their communities.”