Actors’ Equity strikes tentative deal

Union, Broadway League reach agreement

Actors’ Equity Assn. and the Broadway League struck a tentative deal for a new production contract early Wednesday, following an all-night work session that finished around 5:30 a.m.

The bargain increases the actor compensation package by more than 11.25% over the contract’s 39-month duration and renders the parameters governing publicity and promotional commitments more flexible, according to a joint statement from the two sides.

Agreement between legit thesp union Equity and the league, the trade association of Rialto producers and presenters, must be reviewed by Equity governing body the Council. It will then be sent to the union’s membership for approval, with voting eligibility reserved for members who have worked under the production contract since 2000.

Negotiations between actors and producers began in mid-April. When the prior contract between the two orgs expired Sunday, both sides agreed to extend talks on a day-to-day basis until a bargain was reached.

The peaceful resolution marks a striking contrast from the previous round of labor talks on the Rialto. In November, the contentious, drawn-out negotiations between the league and the union of Broadway stagehands broke down and resulted in a 19-day strike that darkened the majority of Rialto productions during one of the street’s most profitable holiday frames.

In the wake of those tribulations, legiters largely expected a more collegial atmosphere in the league-Equity talks.

One of the issues on the table was the parameters regarding where, when and how promotional material featuring actors can be created and used. This bargain loosens those regulations, in large part to accommodate new media that did not figure into earlier contracts, and provides thesps remuneration for participating.

The deal also continues to refine the arrangement for touring productions, with the aim of promoting more league tours starring Equity actors. The proliferation of non-Equity tours proved a major sticking point in 2004, the last time the league and the union negotiated, and resulted in a “tiered contract” system for road shows.

The deal’s increase in actor compensation includes raises in minimum salary as well as health and pension plans.

Agreement is set to expire in September 2011. Once ratified, it would extend retroactively to June 30.

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