UPDATE, with League statement: The labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre has voted to authorize a strike against The Broadway League, the trade association for Broadway.
The National Council of Actors’ Equity Association’s unanimous vote does not begin a strike. But it is a saber rattle that business as usual could be disrupted if they can’t reach consensus on the Development Agreement, which supports the creation of new works by Broadway League producers.
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The current agreement has been under discussion since last month. It expires on Sunday.
“We know that show development is work,” said Equity Executive Director and Lead Negotiator Al Vincent, Jr. “This development work hopefully leads to successful shows, some of which have long lives with many iterations, that can make a lot of money for producers. We know there is no revenue from the development sessions themselves, but it’s still work, and that doesn’t change whether there’s revenue today or whether it’s an investment producers are making against future profits. And that work must be appropriately compensated.”
Equity members went on strike in 2019 over this issue, then called the Lab Agreement. It was the union’s first strike in 50 years and lasted 33 days.
If Equity and the Broadway League do not reach a deal and a strike is called, actors and stage managers would refuse to cross the picket line on projects to develop shows aimed at full-scale productions.
“We have been engaged in good faith negotiations with Actors’ Equity regarding development work,” said Jason Laks, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Labor Relations at The Broadway League. “These negotiations have no impact on any Broadway or touring productions. The contract we are negotiating covers only short-term employment in the early stages of development work on projects that may or may not ever become fully-realized productions. As the Union itself has acknowledged, this work does not generate revenue for the producers. We look forward to returning to the bargaining table and continuing our efforts towards reaching an agreement.”
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