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Actors' Equity Releases Statement Re: Equity Waiver Lawsuit, Asner vs. Actors' Equity

As reported by BroadwayWorld, members of the Los Angeles theatrical community have filed a lawsuit against Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, challenging the Union's decision to eliminate its 25-year-old waiver of jurisdiction over small 99-seat theaters, a program popularly known as Equity Waiver.

Plaintfills include Ed Asner, Tom Bower, Gregg Daniel, John Flynn, Maria Gobetti, Gary Grossman, Ed Harris,Salome Jens, Veralyn Jones, Karen Kondazian, Simon Levy, Amy Madigan, Tom Ormeny, Lawrence Pressman,Michael A. Shepperd, Joseph Stern, French Stewart and Vanessa Stewart, who claim that the Union's decision to end Equity Waiver will unfairly destroy small theater in Los Angeles and deprive thousands of actors of opportunities to collaborate on creative theatrical projects.

Today, Actors' Equity released the following statement:

"Actors' Equity Association announced today that the union and the plaintiffs in the Asner vs. Actors Equity Litigation have agreed to meet. Due to pending litigation Actors' Equity will not make any further statements about the meeting."

Click here for BroadwayWorld's article on Ed Asner's history of union activism.

The lawsuit was filed October 19th in the Los Angeles federal court. The plaintiffs are Los Angeles-based members of Equity, together with other theatrical artists and theater operators who had entered into a litigation Settlement Agreement with the Union in 1989 that established a system for regulating future changes to the Equity Waiver program.

The lawsuit alleges that the stage actors' union violated this Settlement Agreement by improperly interfering with the democratic and due process procedures established in the Agreement to prevent any unilateral Union decision to eliminate the world of intimate theater. The lawsuit complains that Equity's new rules, including a prohibition on volunteer acting at small theaters and a new wage compensation obligation on these theaters, will force theaters to close, reduce their production runs, or to hire non-union volunteer actors in place of Union actors.

Plaintiffs are represented by the Law Offices of Steven J. Kaplan and Martha Doty of Alston & Bird.

To read the full complaint, click here.

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