More than 3,000 people, including prominent director Ava DuVernay and actors Sterling K. Brown and Jane Fonda, have signed a letter calling on the entertainment industry to end the wage gap between male and female production workers in Hollywood.
The letter has not yet been delivered to large studios and industry officials, but there are plans to distribute it once it receives more signatures.
The effort is being spearheaded by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 871.
In June, the union commissioned a study which found that female-dominated crafts in the film and television industry -- like script supervisors and art department coordinators -- are routinely paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts.
"There’s been a conversation happening in Hollywood for quite a while about the issue of pay equity for women actors," says Leslie Simon, who works as a Business Representative with the union. "However, the issue of below-the-line women has not been part of that dialogue at all."
According to Simon, and as mentioned in the letter, the entertainment industry is largely violating the California Fair Pay Act, which requires equal pay for employees who perform “substantially similar work.”
Marisa Shipley works as an art department coordinator on television shows like Netflix’s "Grace and Frankie" and the Starz show “Vida.”
"Film, and particularly behind the scenes and below the line is very collaborative," she says. "And you work very closely with your team. And so, to be a young woman who makes one-third to one-half of what anyone else in my department is making is really discouraging."
The study also found that more than 50 percent of the women surveyed say they’ve seen or experienced sexual harassment at work.
Miranda Cristofani is on the Board of Directors at IATSE and worked as an art department coordinator in the industry for 14 years. She says you can draw a direct line between harassment and pay equity.
"If you’re paid peanuts," explains Cristofani, "you’re treated as peanuts."