Equity-only auditions OK’d

NEW YORK — The National Labor Relations Board has approved an Actors’ Equity proposal allowing Equity-only casting auditions.

The Equity auditions, in which union members can be auditioned separately from non-union actors, has been a union goal for years. Agreements to the proposal were reached in individual contract negotiations with the League of American Theaters & Producers, the League of Resident Theaters, Livent Inc. and other producing organizations. The final approval from the National Labor Relations Board was announced Tuesday by Equity president Ron Silver.

Since 1988, auditions have operated under a process called the eligibility system, allowing non-union members who meet certain criteria — number of weeks employed, salary minimums — to audition with Equity members. That system will be phased out within a year, allowing producers to stage separate auditions for union and non-union actors.

The Labor Relations Board ruled that separate auditions do not violate labor laws as long as no preference is afforded union members in casting choices.

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