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Costume Designers Officially Launch Equal-Pay Campaign As They Seek Parity With Peers

The Costume Designers Guild, IATSE Local 892, has launched its Pay Equity Now campaign, which focuses on achieving parity with their male-dominated creative department head counterparts.

This comes as IATSE looks toward beginning negotiations on its contract with studios in March. The current deal expires at the end of July.

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The Costume Designers Guild consists of professional costume designers, assistant costume designers and costume illustrators working in film, TV, commercials and other media. Its membership is 87% female, with more than 20% of members identifying as LGBTQ, and the guild says that they are 45% lower on the IATSE pay scale than male-dominated creative department heads, according to Pay Equity Now.

“Within an industry that prides itself on creativity and inclusivity, this glaring wage gap highlights an urgent need for change, one that the CDG has decided to take action towards,” reads a statement from the Pay Equity Now campaign. “This movement seeks to expand upon the #NakedWithoutUs campaign that the Costume Designers Guild has used for the past several years to bring attention to this inequity.”

The campaign is asking for “fair and just compensation for CDG membership” to set the precedent for larger conversations around women’s rights in Hollywood, especially those who work behind the camera.” Based on a 60-hour work week, the costume designer’s scale rate in the IATSE Basic Agreement is about 30% lower than the nearest creative department head, the guild said. The scale rate of the costume designer even falls far below many assistant positions in those aforementioned male-dominated positions, they added.

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“Members of the CDG and leaders of our Pay Equity Now movement will not sit idly by as this glaring injustice persists,” Costume Designers Guild president Terry Ann Gordon. “Costume designers, assistant costume designers and costume illustrators have taken it upon themselves to lead this dialogue, putting this strong message in front of the eyes that are most important when it comes to tangible change – and we’ll continue to push this conversation until we see real change.”

Additionally, the gender pay gap continues to widen every year with the negotiated AMPTP cost of living increases, according to Pay Equity Now. “When each IATSE scale rate gets the same percentage increase annually it compounds to a much greater disparity between positions over time. Costume designers are the lowest paid of all the creative department heads working on a film or TV set.”

Looking ahead, guild members will be impacted by this gender pay disparity, as all IATSE members’ IAP’s are linked directly to the IATSE Union Scale rate, regardless of the member’s ability to negotiate a higher salary than the scale rate.

“This puts further urgency on addressing pay inequities as the gap hinders each member’s ability to adequately prepare for their financial future when compared to their creative counterparts,” the group added. “Recognizing the indispensable contribution of the costume designer and their teams to the overall artistic vision and the economic success of a project, it is unconscionable to advocate for anything less than fair and equitable pay for costume designers, assistant costume designers, and costume illustrators.”

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