Broadway strike averted hours after walkout vote

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A strike affecting Broadway shows looks likely to be averted, just hours after a union representing 1,500 backstage workers announced a vote to walk out.

The tentative deal means the strike, which could have begun as early as Friday halting 28 shows in New York and 17 touring shows, is now off.

The deal, details of which are not yet known, must still be agreed by members before it can go into effect.

It came just hours after the union announced the walkout vote.

The rapidly proposed agreement stands in contrast to the ongoing dispute between writers and guild actors and Hollywood studios and producers.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents stagehands, hair and make-up artists and wardrobe talent on Broadway, said it was negotiating with the Broadway League and Disney Theatrical, two groups representing Broadway producers.

IATSE members had been arguing for salary increases and guaranteed weekly and daily rest periods, and any walkout would have seen the curtain close on hit shows like Wicked, Back to the Future, and & Juliet.

The union said it would confirm details and ratify what it described as the new “Pink Contract” in the coming days.

The earlier announcement of a walkout vote so close to the potential start of a strike was seen as a rarity. Strike votes are usually held long in advance of a strike deadline, allowing for more negotiating time.

Before the tentative deal was announced, IATSE’s Matthew Loeb said: “We need to show strength and unity to ensure we win the wages, benefits, and rights that all members at IATSE have earned and deserve.”

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A strike on Broadway – the main Manhattan thoroughfare that is home to major theatres – would have seriously affected New York City’s tourist economy, as its theatres are a draw for visitors in their own right.

The Broadway League reported that theatres had a total attendance of 12.3 million this past season and grossed $1.6bn (£1.2bn) in ticket sales in the first full season since the pandemic.

Without a deal, IATSE would have become the third major entertainment union to strike this summer, joining the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAF-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

Last week, 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA went on strike, joining the 11,000 members of the WGA who have been striking for months.

Rather than inching towards an agreement, the Hollywood dispute showed signs of heating up on Thursday after one studio, Universal, was forced to deny claims it intentionally cut back trees shading a picket line in Burbank.

The Actors’ Equity Association, which represents acting talent on Broadway, approved a three-year contract in December 2022. The first, and last, IATSE strike was in 2007 and lasted 19 days.

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Related Topics

  • New York City
  • Broadway theatre
  • United States
  • Strike action

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