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Wardrobe workers at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre are preparing to leaflet outside of the iconic venue on Thursday as they call for better wages and health and retirement plan contributions.
The workers, represented by IATSE Local 768, will be distributing leaflets around 7 pm PT to demand “equal treatment,” the international union said on Wednesday. According to IATSE, wardrobe workers are, on average, paid $99 less each performance than stagehand colleagues, and gain 60 percent less in health and retirement plan contributions. Fourteen wardrobe workers currently work on Hamilton, the title currently playing at the Hollywood Pantages.
“We’re highly skilled in our crafts and are often the first in the theatre and the last to leave,” wardrobe worker Jamie Brown, whose Instagram account states that she is an executive board member of Local 768, said in a statement about the upcoming leaflet campaign. “We are behind every costume change and emergency repair that contributes to the performances you see. We deserve a better quality of life and peace of mind that our retirement will be enough when we need it.”
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Broadway in Hollywood, which operates the Hollywood Pantages, for comment.
As part of the wardrober workers’ protest, they are asking Hollywood Pantages clientele and community members to sign a letter campaign that calls on the theater and its umbrella company the Nederlander Organization to improve wages and health and retirement plan contributions for these workers. “Join us in telling President James L. Nederlander and the Pantages’ General Manager, Jeff Loeb, that time’s up on wage inequality behind the scenes,” the petition reads.
“Wardrobe is an intricate part of portraying the story being told onstage. We are asking for a fair and living wage that reflects the hard work put into building and continuously maintaining each costume piece to ensure they look their best for every performance,” Local 768 president Mary Basile said in a statement.
The Hollywood Pantages Theatre reopened for the first time in 17 months amid the pandemic in August 2021 with Hamilton, which was originally set to premiere there in March 2020, before COVID-19 shut down the venue. Hollywood on Broadway is now selling tickets to Hamilton through February 2022. The theater is also set to play host to Moulin Rouge! between June 30 and Sept. 4, 2022.
The wardrobe workers’ advocacy for pay equity recalls a similar campaign for wage equality organized by IATSE-represented costumer designers for film and television titles. The Costume Designers Guild (Local 892), whose membership is overwhelmingly female, has called for pay equality for years with colleagues who do commensurate work, such as production designers. In 2020 the CDG said it intended to fight for pay equality in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Costumers in IATSE Local 705 (Motion Picture Costumers) have also been talking about a potential strike for years, with pay equity being a major issue for the craft, a source has told THR.
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