With a possible strike averted, Broadway theaters won’t be forced to leave their ghost lights on — for now.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) — a union that represents more than 1,000 Pink Contract workers integral to stage productions — began voting to authorize a strike on Wednesday, July 19. One day later, a temporary agreement was reached with management organizations The Broadway League and Disney Theatrical Productions.
“The respective parties will inform their members of the details of this agreement in the coming days,” read a joint statement from the opposing groups on Thursday, July 20.
Further information regarding the negotiation will be released at a later date, with IATSE members subsequently voting to ratify the new contract. If the union rejects the proposed contract, a strike could once again be on the horizon.
The deal was reached in the 11th hour, with management previously given a deadline of Friday, July 21, to bring an offer to the table.
IATSE members are currently employed at 45 shows across the country — 28 of which are on Broadway. Stagehands, makeup artists, hairstylists and wardrobe personnel are among those represented by the union’s Pink Contract. “These are the people who run so many vital backstage functions and without them there is no show,” a representative told CBS News.
A strike would have forced the shutdown of nearly all current Broadway shows, including Hamilton, Wicked, Hadestown and The Book of Mormon. An additional 17 national tour productions would have been impacted.
“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,” read an email from IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb dated Tuesday, July 18, per Playbill. “This strike vote will send a strong message that we will not accept substandard contracts that fail to acknowledge our workers’ contributions. We will not leave anyone stranded, and we will not back down unless we have a deal the members can accept by the end of the week.”
The proposed Broadway strike would have been the third in recent months following the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA. With many writers and actors on the picket lines, Hollywood productions are at a standstill.
Loeb previously threw support behind the other unions’ efforts in a statement shared via the IATSE website. “The Actors and Writers’ cause is reasonable and just, and is part of the same struggles of every worker whose labor powers America’s film and television industry,” he wrote.
The message continued: “The heartbeat of entertainment is the creativity and dedication of working people using their talents and skills to bring cherished stories to life. It is this very heartbeat the studios threaten to silence with reckless disregard for fairness and human artistry. The urgency of this moment cannot be overstated. Our industry is at a crossroads, and the actions taken now will affect the future of labor relations in Hollywood and beyond.”
Loeb emphasized that it was “clear as day who our allies are” as entertainment workers stand up for their rights. “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild kin,” he noted. “Their fight today foreshadows our fight tomorrow, and we must stand united until the studios acknowledge our collective worth, and the workers prevail.”