Breaking: Broadway League Files Legal Complaint Against Multiple Casting Agencies Over Health Insurance Battle
Today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, The Broadway League filed a formal legal complaint against what a press release refers to as "a cartel of casting companies who are violating antitrust laws, jeopardizing Broadway shows, and harming actors, stagehands, musicians, and others who depend on the theatre for their livelihood." The casting directors have maintained however that they are the only Broadway workers without a union, and they do not get healthcare or retirement contributions from the shows they work for. Casting directors are organizing a union with Teamsters Local 817 and are calling on Broadway producers to negotiate a union contract.
The full legal complaint can be found online here.
Specifically, today's complaint asserts that "certain actions by the casting cartel represent clear violations of the Sherman Act, a law designed to help protect against anti-competitive behavior."
According to the complaint, the casting cartel defendants have participated in a common scheme to create, enhance, aggregate or exploit their collective market power for casting services for Broadway productions. This scheme has included unlawful contracts, combinations and conspiracies in restraint of trade -- clear violations of Section 1 of the Sherman Act which was designed to protect against such specific behavior.
The complaint notes that "These unlawful agreements by the cartel have included agreements among the defendants and their co-conspirators to (1) eliminate price competition among casting companies; (2) raise, fix or inflate the prices that casting companies charge for their services, including by imposing surcharges on top of any negotiated fees; (3) engage in a concerted refusal to deal, or group boycott, with any producer that did not agree to one or more demands collectively agreed-upon by the defendants; and (4) take such other steps as may be necessary to carry out the agreement."
The complaint goes on to read that "The casting companies control over 80% of all Broadway shows. In recent weeks, they have stepped up their demands. In their latest salvo, they now seek to inflate prices for their services by 29%, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the costs of developing a show.
These unlawful agreements restrain trade, jeopardize the very viability of Broadway shows, and harm actors, stagehands, musicians producers and countless other innocent parties related to the theatre by preventing price competition among defendant casting companies, increasing the price or cost of casting services, reducing the choice of casting companies that a producer may select, reducing the quality of services that are available for Broadway productions, and increasing the barriers to entry or expansion for actual or potential competitors in the casting services market."
"We have maintained a respectful dialogue with the defendants, and encouraged them to resolve their issues through the National Labor Relations Board," said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. "However, the defendants continuing illegal and anticompetitive cartel behavior is jeopardizing the survival of Broadway shows, and bringing real harm to the actors, stagehands, musicians, and others who depend on the theatre for their very livelihood. We have no choice but to seek a legal remedy to the cartel's illegal behavior."