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Broadway workers, set to strike, reach agreement and avoid theater shutdown

Broadway stage employees were poised to join writers and actors on the picket line.
/ Source: TODAY

The show must go off?

A union representing stagehands and other employees of theatrical productions nearly went on strike this week, meaning that dozens of Broadway shows and touring productions would go dark.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) began voting on a strike authorization on Wednesday, July 19. The group reached an agreement with Broadway League, a trade association representing Broadway producers and theater owners, and Disney Theatrical Productions the following morning, a subsidiary of Disney Entertainment.

“The respective parties will inform their members of the details of this agreement in the coming days,” IATSE said in a statement, per Deadline.

The strike would have involved about 1,500 people who fall under IATSE's pink contract, including “stagehands, hair and make-up artists, wardrobe personnel, and others employed directly by productions,” according to Playbill.

The pink contract covers 28 Broadway productions as well as 17 nationally touring shows, according to Playbill, so the strike’s effects would have been widespread.

IATSE members work across several major productions, according to the union’s website, including “Hamilton”, “Chicago” and “The Book of Mormon,” as well as touring productions of “Frozen” and “Wicked”, among many others.

Prior to voting for a strike, IATSE was previously able to secure “tentative agreements” around healthcare and housing for touring crews, according to Playbill. However, there are still unresolved issues around wages, as well as the provision of “weekly and daily rest periods for IATSE members.”

This averted strike action comes amid two other ongoing strikes of major entertainment unions.

The Writers Guild of America, which represents thousands of film, TV, news, radio and online writers, has been on strike since May 2.

Last week, SAG-AFTRA, a union representing actors, recording artists, and many others in the film and TV industry, also went on strike this month, stalling production on dozens of movies and shows.

Both the writers’ and actors’ unions say they are fighting for higher wages, as well as protections around the use of artificial intelligence.

The IATSE shared its support for the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in a July 14 statement, calling their shared cause “reasonable and just.”

“It’s plain as day who our allies are,” IATSE president Matthew Loeb said in the statement on the union’s website. “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild kin. Their fight today foreshadows our fight tomorrow, and we must stand united until the studios acknowledge our collective worth, and the workers prevail.”