Saturday, March 18, 2023

Actors’ Equity & Off-Broadway League Agree On New Contract: Covid Protocols, Diversity Initiatives & Significant Pay Raises

Actors’ Equity and the Off-Broadway League have reached an agreement for a new three-year contract that includes significant pay raises; Covid protocols; new provisions that strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and additional protections that address issues of harassment, bullying and discrimination.

The new pact also includes an option for producers to make their Off-Broadway productions available to a broader audience base through streaming platforms.

The two sides said that the agreement’s Covid protocols and other safety requirements “reflect a shared understanding of the needs of actors, stage managers and producers when it comes to keeping everyone safe from the virus. The safety protocol recognizes the disparate needs of the Off-Broadway Leagues’ members and provides for options that meet those needs.”

The agreement is retroactive to August 1 and expires on July 28, 2024.

In a joint statement, the parties said that the agreement “reflects a shared commitment to deliver a contract that addresses the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and includes new workplace safety guidelines and long-term financial stability for actors, stage managers and producers.”

Read full statements from the principals below.

Minimum salaries at all not-for-profit Off-Broadway theaters will increase 5% immediately, and 16% over three years. Commercial Off-Broadway minimums will increase between 16% at the lowest salaried categories and up to 12.6% at the highest over the term of the agreement. The contract also limits proration cuts in salary if performances must be limited due to Covid-19.

In addition to updated language around diverse and inclusive casting and hiring policies and practices, the new contract also provides for the creation of new work schedules during rehearsal workweeks and tech time that provide actors, stage managers and producers with continued flexibility; removal of gender binary-based distinctions wherever possible in audition, hiring, rehearsal and production processes, and enhanced language and policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment, along with clarified procedures to address complaints.

The contract’s new equity, diversity and inclusion language also includes new definitions of bullying, sexual harassment, and sex-based and racial discrimination. “This language recognizes these issues as safety issues,” McColl and Bogardus told their members. The contract also extends the window in which members can report harassment or discrimination.

New provisions of the contract, they said, “also create additional payments for 10-out-of-12s and encourage a five-day rehearsal workweek.” Under union rules, when actors are called in for 12 hours of tech rehearsal, they can only work 10 of those hours.

“Many of these changes are firsts in Equity contracts and will provide us a template for future negotiations,” McColl and Bogardus told their members. “We are so grateful to the negotiating team and to all of the members who stood in steadfast support during these Off-Broadway negotiations.”

Here is what the leaders of Actors’ Equity and the Off-Broadway League had to say about today’s deal:

Mary McColl, the union’s executive director
“This agreement builds on the success of our last negotiation with the Off-Broadway League. 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.”

Casey York, president of the Off-Broadway League
“This agreement puts everyone on the path to recovery after an unprecedented period of uncertainty for our industry. 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. I am also incredibly proud that this agreement will also help increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the Off-Broadway community through new hiring practices, while also strengthening industry policies to address harassment and discrimination. I want to thank our incredible co-chairs for their hard work over these past few months. They have shown a tireless commitment to achieving a fair and equitable deal. We look forward to bringing artists and audiences back to our venues with the guidelines necessary to do so safely and equitably.”

Stephen Bogardus, Equity’s principal councilor and chair of its Off-Broadway negotiating team
“When Off-Broadway fully reopens, it will be safer and fairer for the stage managers and actors who bring in audiences. This agreement happened because we all stood together. We had a diligent, passionate negotiating team, and we were able to push ahead because of solidarity from the membership at large. To those who shared their stories and offered their support in public and private, thank you for helping this industry progress.”


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