Actors’ Equity files grievance against waitress producers and licensor

Industry News

Actors’ Equity is filing a grievance against Waitress Producers and Licensor

The producers and the licensor are accused of profiting from both union and non-union workers.

Keala Settle, Jessie Mueller and Kimiko Glenn in the original Broadway production of Waitress
Joan Marcus


Actors’ Equity Association filed suit against Waitress producers Barry and Fran Weissler and Waitress licensor National Artists Management Company for “double-breasting”, simultaneously taking advantage of union and non-union workers.

With a book by Jessie Nelson and a score by Sara Bareilles, Waitress was in the unusual position of running both union and non-union tours simultaneously.

Equity has uncovered evidence that NAMCO has a financial interest in non-Equity production. This violates the union recognition clause of Equity’s production contract and the short-commitment touring agreement to which NAMCO and the Weisslers are parties through their membership in the Broadway League.

Equity, the union that represents performers and stage managers on professional stages on Broadway and beyond, had previously filed with the National Labor Relations Board to represent actors and stage managers on the current non-union tour. The filing was sparked by a card campaign – the first for Actors’ Equity in more than a decade – in which a “critical mass” of company members expressed their desire to be represented by the theater union.

Non-union members of the company cited the dramatically higher pay of union production — non-union performers would be paid a third of what their union counterparts receive — and comparatively less stringent safety protocols as reasons for their decision to leave. unionize.

When Equity first approached the National Labor Relations Board, the Waitress the producers had scheduled performances through 2023. NETworks, the production company, later informed the NLRB that the show was now scheduled through June 2022, which would not allow enough time for a union vote . In response, Equity withdrew its campaign petition. Equity, however, will continue to work to achieve union protection for Waitress workers.

“It’s obvious that these producers fear the will of their workers,” Al Vincent, Jr., executive director of the Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement. “But this problem is much bigger than just one employer. Equity also has open grievances against the John Gore Theatrical Group and Nederlander Presentations, Inc. for their own double breast practices. By taking legal action, we intend to tackle this problem at its source.

“Members of this company have said they want union representation,” added Stefanie Frey, Equity’s director of organizing and mobilization. “And this new path will make things better for them – and for hundreds of other managers and actors who are denied the wages and workplace protections that a union guarantees. When we prevail in this grievance process, and I am confident that we will, these workers will be retroactively placed on equity contracts for the duration of the equity waitress’ employment, and paid in salary and benefits accordingly.

“We are proud of the work we do to bring this wonderful show to audiences across the country, but the work we do is the same as our friends on the Equity tour do, so we ask our employers why we don’t cannot be treated. with the same respect, Waitress the company said in an earlier statement. “We have tried to work with management to improve our conditions on several fronts and have come to the conclusion that we need a union to work on our behalf. We now appreciate Equity helping to unite us as business and shows us a clear path to Fair Treatment.”

Playbill contacted the producers of Waitress for a statement.

Led by Jisel Soleil Ayon as Jenna, the non-union tour cast of Waitress also includes Dominique Kent as Becky, Gabriella Marzetta as Dawn, David Socolar as Dr. Pomatter, Brian Lundy as Ogie, Shawn W. Smith as Earl, Jake Mills as Cal, and Michael R. Douglass as Joe. The set includes Elvie Ellis, Stephanie Feeback, Olivia London, Jake McCready, Dayna Marie Quincy, Zoë Brooke Reed and Woody White, with swings by Nicole Clemetson, Justin Forward, Justin Glass, Andrew Burton Kelley and Julia Rippon. For a complete tour schedule, visit WaitressTour.com.

Andrew B. Reiter