The Off-Broadway League and Actors’ Equity have reached a three-year collective bargaining agreement ahead of the larger industry reopening.
The agreement includes work safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as pay increases for actors and stage managers and a provision for streaming theater performances. The agreement begins retroactively on Aug. 1 and expires July 28, 2024.
The stakes were high for both parties. as Off-Broadway theaters negotiated while facing cut budgets and rising costs related to COVID-19 protection and Actors’ Equity backed members who had been out of work for more than a year. The length of the agreement was initially a sticking point, with Equity arguing for a one-year extension of the existing contract and Off-Broadway theaters seeking a multi-year deal in order to help shape strategic plans.
In an email to Actors’ Equity members, the union outlined the pay increases as an immediate 5% increase in salary minimums at all not-for-profit Off-Broadway theaters and a 16% increase over the next three years. Commercial Off-Broadway theaters will see an increase of 16% to salary minimums in the lowest salary categories and 12.6% in the highest categories over the next three years.
“This agreement builds on the success of our last negotiation with the Off-Broadway League,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity. “The Off-Broadway League agreed that simply returning to work is not enough; the work needs to be safe and sustainable. Together we have made important inroads on wages as well as worker safety – both on COVID-19 and as it pertains to bullying, harassment and discrimination.”
Additional provisions of the agreement include updated language about diverse and inclusive casting and hiring policies, more flexible work schedules during a show’s rehearsal and tech period — which includes additional payments for 10-out-of-12s and a recommendation for a five-day rehearsal workweek, Equity told members — and the removal of gender-binary language, wherever possible, in audition, hiring, rehearsal and production processes.
“This agreement puts everyone on the path to recovery after an unprecedented period of uncertainty for our industry,” said Casey York, president of the Off-Broadway League. “Our goal heading into these sessions was always to secure a long-term deal that would provide members with clarity and stability coming out of the pandemic, and we have achieved that with a new three-year agreement.”