Actors’ Equity Association has announced that it has filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for recognition as the union for Broadway production assistants. Equity first announced a campaign for unionization of these production assistants on Sept. 22.
Equity is the national union representing professional actors and stage managers, including those on Broadway. If approved, Equity would become the bargaining representative for production assistants working on Broadway as well as sitdown productions presented by members of the Broadway League. The union expressed that it had hoped the League would offer voluntary recognition; it is unknown when the League last offered voluntary recognition of this sort.
Next, the NLRB will determine a schedule for the unionization election.
“These [production assistants] are such essential members of the stage management team that when the employer hands out company contact sheets on the first day of rehearsal, they’re listed alongside the [production stage manager] and [assistant stage managers],” said Actors’ Equity Association president Kate Shindle. “Does anybody really think it’s a coincidence that the vast majority of Broadway PAs are already Equity stage managers? This work clearly belongs on an Equity contract.”
In a statement, the Broadway League replied, “The Broadway League and our members value the work of the production assistants that Actors’ Equity Association is seeking to represent. We believe that the National Labor Relations Board is the proper forum for determining whether an election is appropriate and we have encouraged the union to seek a determination from the board.”
Currently, production assistants work as hourly employees. Duties can include preparing rehearsal materials and assisting stage management in rehearsals and tech rehearsals. It is unknown how many production assistants currently work on Broadway productions and sitdown productions produced by League members. According to Equity, nearly 100 workers have held this position within the past two years.
A timeline on the decision by the NLRB is not known. Equity and the Broadway League negotiated an updated contract for Broadway actors and stage managers in December 2022.