Equity-League Contract Deadline Approaches, Councils, Support Voiced

News   Equity-League Contract Deadline Approaches, Councils, Support Voiced As the June 27 deadline for the Actors' Equity Association and the Broadway producers contract approaches, the media blackout imposed by both sides on June 16 remained in effect. However, small bits of information concerning the ongoing talks have leaked out.

On June 21, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists issued a statement supporting Equity in its negotiations. "We support our sister union Actors' Equity in these critical contract talks," the SAG statement read. "The 120,000 members of Screen Actors Guild stand squarely behind Equity in solidarity..." The issuance fell short of saying the two guilds would join Equity on the picket line, should the talks lead to a strike.

Meanwhile, discussions were scheduled to recommence on June 24. Tuesday negotiations were canceled as both sides broke to huddle separately. Wednesday matinees prevented the producers and union reps from convening on June 23.

Also, the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds was scheduled for a regular monthly meeting June 23, according to the Hollywood Reporter. COBUG is made up of 13 Broadway unions. Equity executive director Alan Eisenberg is its co-chairman.

When the League and Equity drew a curtain on the talks with their media blackout, they stated, "We are making progress in our Production Contract negotiations," and that they would be making no further statements until "there are significant developments to report." However, sources indicate little progress has been made. The major issues continue to be the proliferation of non-union national tours, and the related matter of Equity's struggle with soaring health insurance costs (fewer Equity actors on tour means fewer producer contributions into the union's health care plan).

The Equity membership has voted to authorize the union council to call a strike; the contract expires at midnight on July 27. Another possible outcome may be an extension of the talks—a tack the two side have taken in the past.

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