Off-Broadway's Backstage Workers Are Unionizing; Atlantic Theater Company Workers Vote to Join IATSE | Playbill

Industry News Off-Broadway's Backstage Workers Are Unionizing; Atlantic Theater Company Workers Vote to Join IATSE

The move is a historic and potentially industry-changing one for Off-Broadway theatre.

Backstage workers at Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theater Company have voted to unionize and join IATSE, a historic move that could have far-reaching implications for the Off-Broadway industry. Delayed results of the vote come days after a similar outcome at Off-Broadway's Titaníque, made official just last week.

Of the company's 178 workers, 73 percent voted, with 129 for and one against. The group includes workers in the company's carpentry, electrics, scenic, props, audio, video, hair-makeup, and wardrobe departments. The move is part of a growing trend in Off-Broadway theatre, whose backstage workers are currently largely non-union, unlike their Broadway counterparts. Similar action at other Off-Broadway companies is expected to follow in the wake of this vote.

Unionizing allows workers to collectively bargain, in hopes of improving working conditions, raising salaries, gaining health benefits, and more. Higher wages and other demands that often come with unionizations will also, however, raise production costs, which has the potential to come with higher-priced tickets and other changes to the Off-Broadway business model.

“This is a monumental step forward towards improving pay, conditions, and stability for freelance theatre workers in New York City and across the country,” says stage carpenter Michael Stevens in a statement. “I’m immensely grateful to my fellow workers for supporting the effort to unionize the Atlantic, as well as to the organizing committee for our shared, tireless commitment to this campaign. We look forward to bargaining for the benefits—such as healthcare—that we all deserve!”

“There is a growing movement of entertainment workers Off-Broadway joining in union,” adds IATSE representative Dan Little. “All work has dignity, and the production workers at The Atlantic Theater Company are showing their community how to stand up for themselves and demand the respect that comes with a union.”

The Off-Broadway company has become a major incubator for Broadway transfers in recent seasons, having given stages to Days of Wine and RosesBetween Riverside and CrazyKimberly AkimboHangmenThe Band's Visit, and more before their Broadway bows.

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