2½-year pact lets orgs explore merger

HOLLYWOOD — It looks like the urge to merge is contagious.

Actors Equity Assn. and the American Guild of Musical Artists announced Monday an agreement on shared jurisdiction on crossover productions, such as “Movin’ Out” and “La Boheme” on Broadway.

The unions said the 2½-year pact will allow them time to explore the possibility of a merger and invited the American Guild of Variety Artists to participate in those discussions.

Announcement came on the eve of today’s ballot tabulation in the proposed SAG-AFTRA merger.

Actors Equity has endorsed that combination — which would create an umbrella Alliance of Intl. Media Artists — and has been mentioned by SAG and AFTRA leaders as a potential merger partner if that deal goes through.

AEA reps 45,000 members and AGMA 7,000, with many performers in major American cities maintaining memberships in both unions.

Pact points

In a joint announcement, the unions said the pact recognizes AEA’s expertise in establishing standards for Broadway productions and AGMA’s expertise in negotiating contracts for operatic music and ballet dancing.

“Consequently, contracts for both the New York production and the tour of ‘Movin’ Out’ and contracts for any subsequent crossover productions will be principally negotiated, administered and enforced under traditional AEA provisions, with AGMA’s active participation in negotiations and shared Playbill credit,” they said.

Agreement includes mutual pledges from both unions to refrain from intruding upon each other’s exclusive jurisdictions under AEA’s Broadway Production Contract and AGMA’s contracts with opera companies.

It also resolves jurisdictional disputes over “Movin’ Out,” “Boobs! The Musical” and Aquila Prods. and creates a procedure for resolving subsequent disputes over Broadway shows.

Bikel to judge

Theodore Bikel, president of the Assn. of Actors & Artistes of America (the AFL-CIO entity that oversees unions representing live performers in the U.S.), will be given the sole and exclusive authority to determine “crossover” jurisdiction.

Announcement credited AEA prexy Patrick Quinn — who has strongly supported the SAG-AFTRA combo — and AGMA president Linda Mays as playing key roles in concluding the agreement.

AEA exec director Alan Eisenberg and AGMA exec director Alan Gordon issued a joint statement: “This agreement establishes a framework within which the unions representing live performers can move toward an in-depth exploration of a merger or other consolidation, while assuring that both unions, separately and together, can devote their energies toward negotiating the best possible collective bargaining agreements for their respective members.”

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