Production Assistants on Broadway Seek Unionization With Actors’ Equity

Production assistants on Broadway are seeking to unionize with Actors’ Equity.

About 100 production assistants who either currently work as part of stage management teams on about 10 productions on Broadway, or have within the past two years, are seeking voluntary recognition of their union from the Broadway League. If that status is not granted, the production assistants will take part in an election with the National Labor Relations Board.

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“The Broadway League and our members support the right of employees to lawfully choose a bargaining representative. We have received a request for recognition from Actors Equity Association for certain Production Assistant positions. As we have already communicated to the Union, we look forward to discussing it further with them,” a spokesperson for the Broadway League said.

Production assistants are some of the rare workers on Broadway, and on sit-down productions, without union representation. The assistants are hourly employees and conduct tasks such as preparing rehearsal materials, running errands and making sure decisions made during rehearsals are noted down. These production assistants are typically only employed from the time period before a show starts rehearsals through opening night.

Equity notes that many of these PAs are early-career stage managers and are already members of Equity due to their work in other areas. The unionization effort does not apply to production assistants in other departments, such as in music or wardrobe.

“Getting a Broadway production up and running is an enormous task, and the work of Broadway’s stage management teams prior to opening night is fundamental to any show’s success,” said Erin Maureen Koster, third vice president of the Actors’ Equity Association, which represents the union’s stage manager members. “Every one of these workers, whether their title is production stage manager, stage manager, assistant stage manager or production assistant, is a skilled professional and essential to the team. And yet, production assistants have stood alone for too long as the only members of these teams without the basic protections of union contracts – without safe and sanitary workplace requirements, without protections against harassment and discrimination, without living wages, without health and pension benefits.”

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