Actors’ Equity Association and the Broadway League have brokered a new agreement that will govern professional actors and stage managers who work on all union tours. The April 28 announcement of the newly ratified contract comes after months of negotiations.
In completing this agreement, Equity and the League managed to avoid a strike. The revisions comprise a large change for the industry, as tours were previously governed under multiple individual contracts determined by a tiered system. The most recent negotiations have led to a single contract that will be in effect through Sep. 27, 2026.
However, this single contract still divides touring productions into levels. The previous agreement stipulated 10 tiers of touring; for the new agreement, these categories have been condensed into seven.
Among the changes are salary increases for each job category at all levels. Minimum salaries increase 4 percent now and 4 percent each year of the three-and-a-half-year contract. The new contract also includes increased increments for additional duties that Equity members might take on. Further, the contract stipulates increased health benefits.
Also of note, the new agreement requires all tours to share consistent terms for housing and per diem, regardless of level. Producers will now pay for company housing; per diem will cover food and incidental expenses. All Equity members will have access to three days’ paid sick leave; previously, members earning above a specific threshold were not granted that benefit. Additionally, all members will receive an additional personal day.
Another priority of negotiations regarded coverage — swings, understudies and substitute stage managers. The new agreement stipulates that adequate coverage includes at least one swing for every four onstage chorus performers. A full breakdown of changes can be found in the member portal on the Equity website.
“Creating a new, unified touring agreement has been a long-term goal, and it was a massive undertaking,” said Kate Shindle, president of Equity, in a statement. “We will continue to focus on improving quality of life for the actors and stage managers who commit to bringing world-class theater to communities across the country. I am grateful for the sustained, passionate and creative work of everyone who contributed to this negotiation.”
“The Broadway League is pleased that we have reached an agreement with Actors’ Equity Association covering all our touring productions and allowing our members to continue to provide the Broadway experience in theaters across the country,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, in a statement. “This new agreement provides much needed flexibility and cost-savings in key areas for our touring producers while addressing the core concerns of the union.”
Also in the month of April, Equity and the League announced the ratification of a new four-and-a-half-year agreement for actors and stage managers working at League of Resident Theatre (LORT) houses. LORT consists of 79 member theaters across 30 states and Washington, D.C. — including Broadway nonprofits Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company and Second Stage Theater. The new Equity-LORT agreement includes salary increases and growth in all three employment categories: chorus, principals and stage managers. It also broadens protection surrounding bullying, discrimination and harassment as well as assurances around hair styling and costuming as part of diversity, equity and inclusion standards. Notably, the contract also creates additional opportunities for the development of new artistic work at LORT houses.
In the fall of 2022, Equity and the Broadway League also ratified a new agreement that provides the terms for Broadway and sit-down production. Equity is the national union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theater. The Broadway League is the national trade association for the Broadway industry with members that include theater owners and operators, producers, presenters and general managers around the world.