Equity Talks Break Down; Equity Council to Meet July 12

News   Equity Talks Break Down; Equity Council to Meet July 12 Concluding a week of negotiations, talks between Actors' Equity Association and Broadway producers over a new contract broke off early Saturday morning at 12:45 AM.

According to a statement by AEA spokesperson, the actor's union made its final offer to the League of American Theatres and Producers Friday night.

On Saturday July 10, the League responded with a press release rejecting the offer. Jed Bernstein, League president, stated, "The League and Actors' Equity have worked hard and reached tentative agreement on virtually every issue on the table with the exception of salary and per diem for certain categories of touring productions. We believe that having a viable economic plan for the road is critically important to both sides, and we want to continue to work toward an agreement on these issues. However, we will not accept a deal that does not realistically address the problems that face touring Broadway. Equity's last offer on touring is still hundreds of dollars per week higher than the rates they have agreed to in the special deals they've made with non-union producers. "

Alan Eisenberg, Executive Director of AEA, responded in a statement, "Broadway productions in New York and Broadway shows on the road stand for a certain quality of performance. These negotiations must make certain that Equity productions remain the norm across the United States. This is the only way to ensure that audiences across the nation are pleased, not disappointed. Unless we succeed in these negotiations, the long term effect will be the loss of Broadway as the number one New York tourist attraction."

At this time, there are no further negotiations scheduled. AEA will hold an emergency Council Meeting on Monday July 12 to decide how to proceed. In the meantime, Equity members are being instructed to continue to report for work, but take all personal items home with them after each performance. The contract between Equity and the League expired midnight Sunday, June 27. The union and the League have continued operating under the previous contract until a work stoppage occurs or a new contract is signed.

A strike by actors would shut down almost every Equity tour (there are 11 on the road) and most Broadway shows except those operating under a separate agreement between Actors' Equity Association and the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) — The Frogs at Lincoln Center Theater, Sight Unseen at Manhattan Theatre Club's Biltmore Theatre and Roundabout Theatre Company's Assassins and After the Fall. Off-Broadway productions would also be unaffected by a work stoppage.

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