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Kevyn Morrow, Nicholas Barasch, and Kimberly Marable in "Hadestown." (Photo by T Charles Erickson)

Actors’ Equity Issues Strike Threat Over Touring Contract

The union has been negotiating with the Broadway League for a new national touring contract since January; the current contract expired on Feb. 5.

NEW YORK CITY: The National Council of Actors’ Equity Association has authorized the union’s lead negotiator, executive director Al Vincent Jr., to call a strike on all Broadway League tours at a time he deems appropriate. The union is seeking fair pay, appropriate housing and per diem, and sufficient coverage to ensure that shows can go on when individual Equity members cannot. 

“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.” He added that the League and AEA has added two more days of bargaining, April 11-12, to reach a deal.

Despite their initial shared desire to streamline work rules and simplify the administration of touring shows for the benefit of workers and employers alike, the union says the Broadway League has not yet made acceptable proposals and has refused to provide information they are required to give Equity in the bargaining process. For context as to the negotiation’s significance, Actors’ Equity cites the unprecedented COVID-19 shutdown of the industry, along with a 2019 agreement between the parties to create a new touring agreement that would replace and unify several previous agreements into one new contract.

Nearly 90 percent of Equity stage managers and actors currently on tour have signed a strike pledge. The pledge 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.

“Our goal is to get a fair deal for our members, who have been working on an expired contract since Feb. 5,” said AEA president Kate Shindle in a statement. “No one wants to disrupt the work of bringing theatre to audiences across the country, but we are prepared to strike Broadway League producers if we are not able to reach a fair agreement. If the producers don’t return to the table with good faith responses to our proposals addressing the hardships our members face on the road and the information they are required to share, that strike will happen.”

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