Actors' Equity Sets Up Relief Fund for Members Affected by Lab Strike
Following the announcement earlier this month that Equity's National Council has authorized a strike against the Broadway League for all Development work, Actors' Equity Association has just announced plans for relief for affected members.
The strike, announced on January 7, applies to the Lab Contract, Workshop Agreement and Staged Reading Contract and Staged Reading Guidelines with the Broadway League producers listed on Equity's DO NOT WORK LIST.
A recent letter from AEA reads:
It's day 23 of the strike on developmental work with the Broadway League. You might remember that we said we would update you throughout the process, and that's what we're doing.
Last week, Equity and the Broadway League sat down for a full day of negotiations. We haven't reached a deal yet, but the conversations are scheduled to continue. The League has seen that Equity members are united in the fight for a better Lab Agreement, and it's having an impact, so thank you! The strike remains in full effect.
Meanwhile, Equity's National Council has approved a strike fund and staff are engaging with members who might lose work because of the strike. Staff is already engaging with affected members. However, if you have a written offer letter for Broadway League development work and have not yet been in touch with staff, please contact NotALabRat@actorsequity.org to learn more. You will need an offer letter to qualify for a strike benefit.
Equity has continued to work with independent producers on developmental projects through the strike. August Rush was removed from the DO NOT WORK list after the independent producer reached an independent development agreement on a compensation package that includes higher weekly salaries than the Lab Agreement, profit sharing for members and additional stage managers.
If you have any questions about developmental projects, you should email NotALabRat@actorsequity.org.
We'll continue to keep you updated as the strike progresses!
Actors' Equity Association
Equity has spent nearly two years trying to negotiate a replacement for the Lab Agreement with the Broadway League. Recent headlines show that 2018 was Broadway's highest-grossing year ever. And yet, the Equity members who go to work developing new work for Broadway on Lab Agreements have gone 12 years without a raise.
The Broadway League said in a recent statement: "The Broadway League has been negotiating in good faith over multiple sessions and there are additional proposals to make. We look forward to continuing our respectful dialogue with the union and are confident that we will reach a fair agreement that will be beneficial to both sides."
Some Broadway shows - such as Frozen and Mean Girls - already offer to share profits with Equity members who worked to bring their productions to life during development on the Lab Agreement. The Broadway League has nevertheless refused to agree to profit sharing as part of the new contract.
Equity's Lab Agreement is a key part of how commercial theatre productions - mostly musicals - are developed. One in four Broadway shows have used a Lab Agreement before opening on Broadway. The Lab Agreement has been used 75 times since 2016. 51 percent of those Labs went on to further production.