In the week following a report from The Hollywood Reporter that shed light on several allegations of abuse and intimidation by Broadway and film producer Scott Rudin, a collective of three performers’ unions—Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802—have released a statement denouncing harassment and toxic workplaces in the industry.
The unions’ joint message does not mention Rudin or any other producer by name. Rather, it references “credible reports” of aggression perpetrated by “individuals who hold high positions within a company or on a production and exercise management power over subordinates.”
Equity points to “corporate counterparts,” such as boards of directors, calling on them to address these allegations, and pledges to work with fellow unions to hold leaders accountable. Members who experience or witness acts of harassment such as those depicted in The Hollywood Reporter’s story are urged to report them to their unions’ respective hotlines. Equity also says that it asks employers to provide published harassment policies at the first rehearsal and throughout members’ employment.
Equity does prohibit members from working with certain production and theatre companies through its “Do Not Work” list. While the union traditionally does not disclose specific reasons for employers’ inclusion on the list, the step is frequently implemented following failed negotiations to reach a union agreement. In 2019, Equity placed in-development works with Broadway League members on this list, effectively calling for a strike on new show development until changes to the two’s Lab Agreement, including a profit-sharing model for shows that reach recoupment, were made. The strike lasted just over a month.
In more recent months, Equity has assembled a separate list of theatres that it says have eschewed union contracts in the wake of the pandemic in order to operate outside the particular protocols of Equity’s reopening plan. “These producers insisted on moving forward on timelines that make collaborating to ensure a safe workplace impossible,” Equity says, while including links to email addresses and social media handles for the theatres on this list.
A representative for Equity has not responded to a request for comment on whether a “Do Not Work” order could or would be used in response to the allegations against an individual producer or artistic leader.
The statement marks one of few instances of large industry entities speaking out in the wake of the report’s publication. Individuals, including Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison, actor-playwright Heidi Schreck, and performers Anthony Rapp and Amber Iman, have expressed solidarity with those who have come forward.
“We as a collective know what we're up against. We've read the emails. We went to the town halls. We've seen the articles and the cover stories,” Iman said from the stage of the Broadway Theatre April 10 while leading a concert presented by the Rudin-led NY PopsUp series. “We are not going to allow stuff to go down without us speaking up... That's what it's going to take. When we get back, it's going to take a collective sense of a community.”
Read the unions’ full joint statement, attributed to SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, AEA President Kate Shindle, and AFM President Adam Krauthamer, below.
Every worker deserves to do their job in an environment free of harassment of any kind, whether that harassment creates a toxic workplace or, certainly in the case of sexual harassment, when that behavior is also against the law.
All harassment is not only detrimental to the health and welfare of workers, but also a serious threat to the proper functioning of a company. Thus, every corporate Board of Directors should be deeply alarmed by credible reports of long-standing, repeated violent and aggressive harassing behavior by individuals who hold high positions within a company or on a production and exercise management power over subordinates. Workers who come forward to blow the whistle in these situations are incredibly brave and we applaud their courage.
No worker should be subjected to bullying or harassment, whether or not they are a union member. Over the past several years, our nation has finally begun to reckon seriously with harassment of all forms in the entertainment industry and beyond. As organizations representing more than 200,000 members in the arts, entertainment and media, we unreservedly condemn workplace harassment in all its forms. We pledge to work together, and with other allies, to hold accountable those who violate human and legal norms of fair, respectful and dignified conduct in the workplace.
We demand action on the part of our corporate counterparts to swiftly address credible allegations of harassment.