On April 3, the National Council of Actors’ Equity Association authorized the union’s executive director and lead negotiator, Al Vincent, Jr., to call a strike on all Broadway League tours should he deem it appropriate.
The union, which represents over 51,000 professional theater actors and stage managers, has been in bargaining sessions for the past two months regarding a new touring agreement. The current contract expired on February 5 and union members have been working according to terms of the out-of-date contract.
Moreover, according to a 2019 agreement between Equity and the Broadway League, this round of contract negotiations was set to combine the Production touring agreement and the separate Short Engagement Touring Agreement (SETA) touring agreements into a single contract.
The contract outlines pay minimums, including rates for per diem, as well as rules for coverage (e.g., understudies and standbys). It also includes provisions for tour date scheduling, benefits and more.
Equity and the Broadway League have not yet been able to agree to terms for the new contract.
“The union has been at the table bargaining with the Broadway League on the contract that governs all Broadway national tours since January,” said Vincent in a statement. “After two months of slow but forward motion between the parties, we still don’t have a contract that meets our members’ basic needs. We have let the League know in no uncertain terms that the cost of doing business does not justify inadequate per diem and housing for our members on tour. I am glad that we were able to add two days of bargaining — April 11 and 12 — and I hope we can reach an agreement that averts a strike.”
To date, 90 percent of union members currently on a tour who would be affected by this agreement have signed a strike pledge, which reads:
We deserve a contract that respects the value of our labor, recognizes our creative contributions, and appropriately addresses the realities of the touring landscape in 2023 and beyond. I pledge to stand with my colleagues on tour in demanding a fair contract, negotiated in good faith.
If my union calls for a strike to protest the Broadway League’s unacceptable offer, I will join my fellow union members to walk off the job. I am ready and willing to do whatever it takes to get the contract we need.
The Broadway League declined Broadway News’ request for comment.
Actor Ryan Rodiño, who is currently appearing in the touring production of “Aladdin,” told Broadway News of his support for this authorization by the Council: “I’m really proud of my fellow Equity members for making their voices heard. Authorizing a strike makes our message loud and clear: We aren’t going to settle for anything less than a fair deal. With pledges growing past 90 percent and support statements coming in from sibling unions, I think it shows our industry how united all 23 touring companies really are. We’re artists who love what we do. We take great pride in our work. But that work can’t happen without a fair contract.”
Equity president Kate Shindle told Broadway News, “It’s been a long road, and we’ve mobilized more thoroughly around this negotiation than I’ve seen since I was first elected to Equity’s National Council in 2008.”
“We’re ready for whatever comes,” she continued. “That said, the best outcome would be for us to reach a fair deal when we go back to the table, so all of us can get back to what we really want to do: bringing the magic of live theater to audiences and communities coast to coast.”