SAG-AFTRA, IATSE Declare Support for Actors Equity Strike As Union Warns Off Strikebreakers

Times Square numbers New Year's Eve - H Getty 2018
Getty Images

The Actors Equity strike, in its fifth day, targets the development process used by new shows, especially musicals.

SAG-AFTRA and IATSE threw their support behind a strike called Monday by Actors Equity, telling The Hollywood Reporter that they supported the stage performers’ union action against the lab process used to develop new Broadway shows, particularly musicals.

Meanwhile, Equity itself issued a statement warning non-union actors and stage managers that they will be permanently prohibited from joining the union in the future if they take work that is subject to the strike.

“We support our [Actors Equity] brothers and sisters in their strike against the Broadway League,” said SAG-AFTRA in a statement. “The creative contributions of performers' work are essential to storytelling and to the success of any theatrical production. They should be valued and appropriately compensated.”

Equity represents actors on stage, while SAG-AFTRA represents many of the same actors — so-called dual cardholders — when they work in film, television and commercials. Both unions represent other groups as well.

And IATSE, known in Los Angeles for its representation of film and television crews, also represents theater crew, particularly in New York.

“The development lab system keeps Broadway running by creating the shows that go on to become long-running hits and create jobs for years,” said IATSE international president Matt Loeb. “The Equity actors who bring these shows to life play a huge and underrated role in creating live theater in New York and across the country. They deserve fair pay for their work and dedication, just like all working people in the entertainment industry. We stand with them as they fight for a fair contract.”

Equity said previously that it had been trying for two years to negotiate a new contract with the Broadway League, which represents theatre owners, producers and others, and that weekly salaries under an key contract, the Lab Agreement, have been frozen since 2007. Equity wants developmental performers to share in profits.

The strike, announced Monday, applies to Equity’s Lab Contract, Workshop Agreement, Staged Reading Contract and Staged Reading Guidelines with the Broadway League producers listed on Equity’s Do Not Work List.

“When we launched our public fight for a replacement for the Lab Agreement, we focused on bringing Equity members together,” said Brandon Lorenz, Equity’s National Communications Director. “Now we are expanding that campaign by taking it to more than 13,000 Equity Membership Candidates across the country.” Those EMCs are now required to honor the work stoppage.