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Actors' Equity Association Files Double-Breasting Grievance Against Producers of WAITRESS

The union has withdrawn its election petition from NLRB as it pursues this course of action.

Waitress (Non-Eq)

Actors' Equity Association has opened a grievance against Barry and Fran Weissler and the National Artists Management Company (NAMCO), the licensors of Waitress, for double-breasting - profiting from union and non-union workers at the same time.

BroadwayWorld previously reported that Actors' Equity Association filed with the National Labor Relations Board to bargain on behalf of the actors and stage managers of the national tour of Waitress. This move followed a card campaign in which the workers demonstrated their desire to have Equity represent them. The card campaign was Equity's first in more than a decade.

When Equity first approached the National Labor Relations Board concerning a vote to unionize the tour, the producers had performances planned through 2023. NETworks, the production company, then informed the NLRB that the show was now only scheduled through June 2022, which would not allow enough time to hold a union vote. Equity has in response withdrawn its election petition. However, this is not the conclusion of Equity's work to seek union protection for the workers of Waitress.

In the process related to the union election, Equity uncovered evidence that NAMCO in fact has a financial interest in the non-Equity production. This is in violation of the union recognition clause of both Equity's Production Contract and Short Engagement Touring Agreement to which NAMCO and the Weisslers are party through their membership in the Broadway League.

"It is obvious that these producers fear the will of their workers," said Al Vincent, Jr., executive director of Actors' Equity Association. "But this problem is much bigger than one employer. Equity additionally has open grievances against the John Gore Theatrical Group and Nederlander Presentations, Inc. for their own double-breasting practices. By pursuing legal action, we intend to get at this issue at its source."

"The members of this company have been vocal that they want union representation," said Stefanie Frey, Equity's director of organizing & mobilization. "And this new pathway will make things right for them - and for hundreds of other stage managers and actors being denied the wages and workplace protections a union guarantees. When we prevail in this grievance process, and I am confident that we will, these workers will retroactively be placed on Equity contract for the entirety of the time the Equity Waitress has been contracted, and compensated in salary and benefits accordingly."

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