Verve has announced a 25-40% pay increase for its assistants and mailroom employees in response to the #PayUpHollywood movement which has been shining a spotlight on the issue of assistant pay in the industry.
The agency, which represents #PayUpHollywood co-founder Liz Alper and regular advocate John August, is also changing its hours to shorten the work day by one hour, as well as introducing business casual Fridays and a subsidized, in-office dry cleaning program.
The news was announced via a memo from partners to the entire agency obtained by Variety, and comes less than a week after #PayUpHollywood released the results of a survey of over 1,500 assistants across the biz, which raised concerns not only about assistant pay, but also representation, workplace abuse, and lack of career mobility. Verve reportedly conducted an internal survey of its own in response to the viral Twitter hashtag, and the results prompted the agency to make these adjustments. The pay increase and other changes will take effect from Jan. 1, 2020.
“Based on your input, we are excited to announce a series of changes designed to recognize your valuable work contributions while helping you meet the financial standard necessary to live in today’s Los Angeles,” read part of the memo.
The raises across the board mean that mailroom employees will now be paid $17.50 per hour before taxes, assistants $18.50 per hour, and more experienced assistants $20 per hour. Even with those pay increases, assistants at Verve will still earn substantially less than the $53,600 after taxes that Alper previously defined as the minimum pay to not be rent-burdened in Los Angeles.
#PayUpHollywood held its first town hall just over two weeks ago, at which around 120 entertainment industry support staff gathered to discuss the issue of low pay and share their stories.
“The Hollywood chain is broken,” said one assistant who spoke to Variety after the event. “We’re hearing stories of people who are repeating staff writer level three or four times…that then trickles down to us.”
In terms of where the movement goes from here, Alper said the intention is to organize several more town halls to cover issues such as work conditions at talent agencies and studios, unionization, and freelancer laws.
“Kudos to Verve for being proactive in establishing a fair wage for assistants, which is often lacking in the agency world,” said Alper in response to the salary increase news. “I’m proud to be repped by a firm that lives out these values and hope that the rest of the industry is planning similar moves very soon.”
Read the full Verve memo below:
At Verve, our mission is to listen to our clients and share their voice in the creative community. Today, we are listening to you.
Thank you for sharing your candid thoughts in last month’s internal survey. Based on your input, we are excited to announce a series of changes designed to recognize your valuable work contributions while helping you meet the financial standard necessary to live in today’s Los Angeles.
It starts with a pay increase for all mailroom employees and assistants. Depending on the position, your hourly rate will increase between 25 – 40%.
Second, as a result of the overwhelming response in favor of a shortened day, we are adjusting the working hours at Verve from 8:30am – 7:30pm to 9am – 7pm. Anybody required to work beyond those hours will continue to receive additional overtime pay.
We are keeping our standard two hours of pay you already receive for script reading over the weekend. Our survey showed this to be an extremely popular incentive – an employee perk that is both consistent with the value we as an agency place on the written word, and something that is unique to Verve.
While we will continue to wear business attire from Monday through Thursday, in the new year we will offer a subsidized, in-office “drop off and deliver“ dry cleaning program, and Fridays will become a business casual day.
Beginning January 1st, 2020, the following rates, per hour, will be in effect:
Experienced Assistant $20.00
HR will meet with each of you individually to share your rate and answer any questions you may have.
Please continue sharing your voice with us. Our goal is to make a career at Verve an accessible and outstanding experience for each individual that we are so proud to have as a member of our community!