Talks Between Actors' Equity and Broadway Producers Break Down

News   Talks Between Actors' Equity and Broadway Producers Break Down Negotiations between Actors' Equity Association and the Broadway producers broke down late Sunday night, both sides reported.

In a press statement issued after midnight on June 27—the date the current pact is to expire—Equity said "Contract talks between Actors Equity and Broadway producers broke down on Sunday June 27 at 11 PM, when negotiators for the Producers walked out on the current contract negotiations. The contract was due to expire at midnight. Actors’ Equity is instructing its members to report to work at their theatres until the Council convenes this week to determine a course of action."

The League's simultaneous and somewhat contradictory statement read: "Actors' Equity broke off negotiations Sunday night prior to the contract deadline. Our understanding is that Actors' Equity has indicated actors will be at work Monday, and our expectation is that contract talks will resume as well."

On Monday, June 28, the League issued a second statement: "We are committed to keeping the shows open and are heartened that Equity has taken the same position. We are currently in contact with Actors' Equity Association regarding the next steps in negotiations. We are eager to achieve an equitable contract that works for both parties and are willing to engage in round-the-clock negotiations if necessary."

No further meetings had been scheduled as of mid-afternoon on June 28. Equity is due to hold a council meeting on Tuesday at 1 PM to decide its future course of action.

A spokesperson for the League said of Equity's account that the producers had walked out: "That characterization is unfair." On 2:30, the two sides issued a mutual press announcement reading, "The parties have made progress and remain committed to reaching a mutually agreeable contract."

The announcement was the first either side had made since they instituted a media blackout on June 16.

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.

Negotiations have continued through the weekend of June 26-27.

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." 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. Another possible outcome may be an extension of the talks—a tack the two side have taken in the past.

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