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Actors' Equity Files for National Labor Relations Board Election on Behalf of WAITRESS Tour

Non-union workers are earning a third of their counterparts on the Equity Waitress production.

Waitress (Non-Eq)

Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has 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 follows 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.

"We are proud of the work we are doing bringing this wonderful show to audiences across the country," said members of the non-Equity tour company. "But the work we do is the same work our friends in the Equity tour do, so we are asking our employers why we can't be treated with the same respect. We have tried to work with management to improve our conditions on multiple fronts and have come to the conclusion that we need a union to work on our behalf. We now appreciate Equity helping us come together as a company and showing us a clear pathway to fair treatment."

"The stage managers and actors at Waitress know they deserve better," said Al Vincent, Jr., executive director of Actors' Equity Association. "Touring in a musical like this is extraordinarily hard work, and doubly so during a pandemic. These workers deserve a decent wage and safe working conditions, and it's brave of them to take a stand and say so. This particular situation is especially egregious because of the existence of an Equity tour running right alongside them. That's why Equity reached out to see if we could help.

"It's shameful that the non-union production pays its workers a third of what the company of the Equity tour makes. And it's galling that these employers have even used videos of the non-union actors to teach their roles to their union counterparts. Clearly, the workers in both productions are equally talented and hardworking, doing the exact same job for different audiences. For equal work, they should receive equal protections and equal pay."

For this card campaign, Equity organizers gathered authorization cards from a critical mass of actors and stage managers on the Waitress tour designating Equity to negotiate on their behalf with their employer. Equity has filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board, and pending election results, can begin bargaining with NETworks.

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