Model Alliance Plans Rally at The Met for Fashion Workers Act

Countless brands, celebrities and influencers — established and aspiring — use The Met Gala as a springboard for publicity and new business opportunities. But the Model Alliance is focusing on the Metropolitan Museum of Art to draw attention to New York State’s Fashion Workers Act.

The group is leading a rally on the steps of the Upper East Side museum on Sunday morning to try to rev up support for the labor bill that would regulate management agencies in New York to provide models with more workplace protections in the $2.5 trillion fashion industry.

More than 30 people are expected, including a few models and representatives from the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Writers Guild of America, East, and the Condé Nast union, according to a spokesperson for the Model Alliance. Members of the Freelancers Union, National Domestic Workers Alliance and Workers United as well as some from other unions are also planning to attend. SAG-AFTRA, which represents more than 160,000 media professionals, and WGAE, which has 7,500 writers working in film, television, news, podcasts and online media, just declared their support for the legislation this week.

The bill is meant to regulate management agencies and provide oversight in the industry. Providing workers with contracts, ensuring payment within 45 days and protecting them from harassment, discrimination and unsafe working conditions are objectives. If approved, the legislation would ensure that agencies have a fiduciary responsibility to models, industry hairstylists, content creators, makeup artists and other creatives. It is also designed to prohibit any unreasonably high commissions and fees.

The Model Alliance’s founder Sara Ziff will be joined Sunday at The Met by fellow models Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, Kaja Sokola and Kenny Salel among others to draw attention to the Fashion Workers Act. The added muscle that SAG-AFTRA and WGAE are providing wasn’t the only impetus for staging this weekend’s event. The recent news that Harvey Weinstein will be retried for an overturned rape conviction “was huge” for a lot of the models affiliated with the Model Alliance, a spokesperson said.

Weinstein, who was originally sentenced to 23 years in prison after being found guilty for various sexual abuse charges, sparked the #MeToo movement. He is due back in court in New York in September. The 72-year-old was also found guilty of sexual abuse crimes in California. Those decisions remain intact.

In a lawsuit filed last year in New York State Supreme Court, Ziff alleged that former head of Miramax Fabrizio Lombardo raped her when she was a 19-year-old aspiring model and actress. Ziff also sued Weinstein, Disney, and its subsidiaries Buena Vista and Miramax for abuse and negligence under the Adult Survivors Act.

The Model Alliance spokesperson made the distinction that Sunday’s event is not a protest of The Met Gala. “It is designed to remind fashion’s biggest stars of those without any labor protection,” the Model Alliance spokesperson said.

WGAE’s executive director Sam Wheeler pledged its support in a memo that read, “New York is home to a $10 billion fashion industry, and it is incumbent on our State to protect models and other fashion workers from exploitation. This legislation provides necessary protections for models and while the fashion industry may present the facade of glamour, it’s never in vogue to take advantage of workers.”

A SAG-AFTRA spokesperson did not respond immediately to a request for comment Thursday.

Sunday’s rally will also be livestreamed on the Model Alliance’s Instagram account.

SOURCE: Women’s Wear Daily

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