Members of Actors’ Equity will not return to work in the theater until the union deems it safe to do so, Equity announced Friday.
In pursuit of a safe return, Equity has hired David Michaels, a former assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to consult on new health and safety standards related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Michaels’ appointment comes about a week after Equity reported that some theaters were considering reopening on May 6.
Equity council passed the new membership rule on returning to the workplace on April 21. Under the new rule, Equity told its members it will not issue contracts until employers have proper protocols in place.
“Ultimately, while the employers are solely responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all actors and stage managers, Equity is committed to being an industry leader to help develop model health and safety standards that will eventually allow us to reopen and maintain a safe and healthy workplace,” Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity, said in the press release.
Broadway theaters are currently closed through at least June 7.
Michaels worked at OSHA under the Obama administration from 2009-2017. He is currently a professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health of the George Washington University.