Actors’ Equity Votes to Authorize Strike Over Developmental Work

Actors’ Equity Association has voted to authorize a strike against the Broadway League amid negotiations over developmental work.

The strike authorization vote, which was agreed to unanimously by the union’s 83-member national council, does not mean the union will go on strike, but rather that Equity can call a strike if deemed necessary. The union went on a 33-day strike in 2019 over this contract, which pertains to workshops and readings of shows held before potential full productions on Broadway or elsewhere.

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At the end of the 2019 strike, which saw stage managers and actors refuse to take part in developmental work, union members who take part in the development of a production gained a share in 1 percent of the show’s profits, once the show goes on to a full production and recoups, as well as a salary increase.

This round of negotiations began on Jan. 22, and the contract, which had been in place since 2019, expired on Feb. 11. The share in the 1 percent of profits remains in the contract, but this round, Equity is arguing for pay increases above the levels set in 2019, while the Broadway League is pointing to the fact that the developmental sessions themselves are not money-making.

“We know that show development is work,” said Equity Executive Director and Lead Negotiator Al Vincent, Jr. “This development work hopefully leads to successful shows, some of which have long lives with many iterations that can make a lot of money for producers. We know there is no revenue from the development sessions themselves, but it’s still work, and that doesn’t change whether there’s revenue today or whether it’s an investment producers are making against future profits. And that work must be appropriately compensated.”

“We have been engaged in good faith negotiations with Actors’ Equity regarding development work. These negotiations have no impact on any Broadway or touring productions. The contract we are negotiating covers only short-term employment in the early stages of development work on projects that may or may not ever become fully-realized productions. As the Union itself has acknowledged, this work does not generate revenue for the producers. We look forward to returning to the bargaining table and continuing our efforts towards reaching an agreement, ” said Jason Laks, general counsel and executive vice President of labor relations at The Broadway League.

There are currently no future scheduled days for negotiations, and, at the moment, developmental work is continuing as scheduled.

Workshops of the musical adaptation of Smash, which is holding performances in front of recruited audiences, are currently still scheduled to go forward later this week. However, if a strike were to be called, this could be impacted, as could upcoming developmental work, including Take the Lead, The Lost Boys and Tangled.

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