Actors’ Equity will seek to represent the actors and stage managers working on a non-union tour of “Waitress.”
This is the first time the union has sought to become the bargaining agent for a non-union tour since 2001, when it unsuccessfully tried to represent artists on a tour of “The Music Man.” The decision came after Equity conducted a card campaign, asking interested actors and stage managers on the “Waitress” tour to sign union authorization cards.
One of the primary issues at hand, according to Actors’ Equity, is the fact that a union and a non-union tour of “Waitress” are running at the same time.
“It’s shameful that the non-union production pays its workers a third of what the company of the Equity tour makes,” Al Vincent, Jr., executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, said in the press release. “And it’s galling that these employers have even used videos of the non-union actors to teach their roles to their union counterparts. Clearly, the workers in both productions are equally talented and hardworking, doing the exact same job for different audiences. For equal work, they should receive equal protections and equal pay.”
After receiving support from at least 30% of actors and stage managers on the non-union tour of “Waitress,” Equity filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board. If the election goes through and Actors’ Equity receives enough votes for representation from “Waitress” touring members, the union will begin bargaining with NETworks Presentations.
Jeni Ardizzone-West, chief operating officer at NETworks Presentations, which produces the non-union tour, said the company could not comment until it sees the filing with National Labor Relations Board. “Waitress,” produced by Barry and Fran Weissler, returned to Broadway this fall, where it ran from September through December.
Asked if Actors’ Equity will look to organize more non-union tours, a spokesperson responded in the affirmative, but did not give specifics.
“We don’t have specific plans to share right now, but anyone who wants more information about unionizing their workplace should get in touch with Equity to start the conversation,” said David Levy, communications director for Actors’ Equity.