A Pair of Letters from Equity

happy sad masksIt’s been quite a day in Los Angeles Theater.  First, the court ruled to dismiss the lawsuit brought on Actors’ Equity Association by a large group of Los Angeles theater-makers.  And now, in anticipation of the termination of the 99-Seat Plan in Los Angeles next week, Actors’ Equity Association sent out two emails.

One to LA Equity Members:

As you are aware, there has been much discussion about changing conditions for Equity members working in Los Angeles intimate theaters. With the expiration of the Transitional 99-Seat Theatre Code on December 14th, Equity will be seeking to negotiate with producers in the intimate theater community to provide more opportunities for members to get paid for work on stage in Los Angeles.

L.A. theaters may negotiate to utilize the new 99-Seat Theatre Agreement, already in effect only in Los Angeles, which pays minimum wage for all rehearsal and performance hours, with no weekly guarantee and no pension or health payments. It also affords our members the protections standard in Equity union contracts. Also available are the Small Professional Theatre (SPT) Agreement, the Hollywood Area Theatre (HAT) Agreement, a specialized Letter of Agreement, or one of our other standard contracts that may be applicable.

Because Equity understands that many members value performing on stage in between contracts, the National Council made sure to complement the new 99-Seat Agreement with new membership rules that allow members to perform without benefit of contract under specific circumstances. These internal membership rules provide opportunities for members to self-produce under the Los Angeles Self-Produced Project Code, participate in shows in theaters of 50 seats or fewer under the L.A. Showcase Code, and work with any of the 61 approved membership companies under the Los Angeles Membership Company Rule – all without an Equity contract.

We encourage all members working in Los Angeles County to become familiar with the 99-Seat Theatre Agreement and these membership rules.

On December 15th, we will post in our Member Portal the list of local theater companies that have an Equity agreement, those that are approved as membership companies and a “Do Not Work” list of theaters where members’ participation is not permitted at this time in order to assist you in identifying which local theaters are offering employment opportunities for AEA members.

If you are offered a role in a L.A.-area production, but not offered an Equity contract, or the role is not offered under an applicable membership rule, please contact the Equity office before accepting the role and beginning rehearsal. You may reach us at (323) 978-8080 or westerncontracts@actorsequity.org.

Equity’s strength and our ability to negotiate better terms and conditions for members comes from the unity of our membership. Members working without benefit of a contract weaken Equity’s ability to create and improve work opportunities. For any member, even those with an inactive status, working without a contract is a violation of the Equity Constitution and By-Laws and may subject that member to discipline, including even loss of membership.

Actors’ Equity was founded on the principle that our members deserve a fair wage, and we look for your support as we work to expand opportunities for Equity members in Los Angeles theaters.

Actors’ Equity Association

And one to LA 99-Seat Theater Producers:

Dear 99-Seat Producer,

As you know, there has been much discussion about the changing conditions for intimate theatre in Los Angeles. Actors’ Equity Association, seeking greater opportunities for our Los Angeles members to get paid for stage work, has developed a minimum-wage contract, as well as internal membership rules that allow our members to work without benefit of an Equity contract in certain circumstances.

Next week, on December 14th, the interim 99-Seat Theatre Transitional Code will expire. Following that date, Equity members may only work for theatrical producers in Los Angeles County that have negotiated an agreement with Actors’ Equity, or unless members are participating according to an applicable membership rule.

There are now several agreements that are available to be negotiated between Los Angeles producers and Actors’ Equity. L.A. producers may negotiate the terms of the 99-Seat Theatre Agreement, which affords protections standard in Equity contracts and includes minimum wage for all rehearsal and performance hours worked, with no weekly guarantee of hours, bond or required pension or health payment. L.A. theaters may also negotiate the terms of a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) Agreement, a Hollywood Area Theatre (HAT) Agreement, a specialized Letter of Agreement, or one of our other standard contracts that may be appropriate. (For an overview of these negotiated agreements and the 50-Seat Showcase Code, read below.)

We would be happy to set up a meeting for you to speak with an Equity representative about the right option for Equity members to participate in your future productions. Please contact our Los Angeles office with any questions or to set up a meeting at westerncontracts@actorsequity.org. Because negotiations for a new contract can take time, we urge you to contact us at least four weeks before any productions where you will be hiring Equity members.

On December 15th, we will publish a list of local theater companies that have an Equity agreement, those that are approved as membership companies and a “Do Not Work” list of theaters where members’ participation is not permitted at this time in order to assist our members in identifying which local theaters are offering employment opportunities for AEA members.

We hope to add your name as an Equity producing partner, and we look forward to a productive relationship as we together forge the future of L.A.’s creative and vibrant local theater scene.

Actors’ Equity Association

Here is an overview of the negotiated agreements now available for members to work in intimate theater in Los Angeles County:

Los Angeles 99-Seat Agreement. This is a collective bargaining agreement available to be negotiated with producers for productions in theaters of 99 seats or fewer. The Agreement provides no restrictions on budget, length of the rehearsal period, ticket price or length of the performance run. The Agreement would provide for salary payments based on the legally-mandated minimum wage in Los Angeles County with minimum call requirements, but with no pension or health benefit payments required. The Agreement would require future rights based on the terms of the subsequent Equity collective bargaining agreement and would also require basic workplace standards.

Small Professional Theatre Agreement (“SPT”). The SPT Agreement, which has long been available in other parts of the country, is now permitted for productions in Los Angeles County in venues with a capacity up to 349 seats. There is no budget cap per production, no limitation on the length of the rehearsal period and no restriction on the length of the performance run. The Agreement provides for salary payments ranging from $236 to $799 per week, based on the maximum number of weekly performances, with pension and health contributions required. The Agreement requires future rights based on the producer’s involvement with any subsequent production and also requires basic workplace standards.

Hollywood Area Theatre Agreement (“HAT”). The HAT is an existing collective bargaining agreement for use in Los Angeles Theatres of 349-499 seats. There is no budget cap per production and no restriction on the length of a performance run. Productions may rehearse for no fewer than 2 ½ weeks. The Agreement provides for salaries between $308 to $719.50 per week and is based on a 5-performance week (up to 3 additional performances may be purchased), with salary increases every 20th week of employment. The Agreement requires pension and health benefit payments, future rights based on the producer’s involvement with any subsequent production, and requires basic workplace standards. The HAT Agreement is an all-Equity agreement.

Los Angeles 50-Seat Showcase Code. Equity created this internal union membership rule to allow members to work without the requirement of an Equity contract in theaters with 50 seats or fewer, where the budget for the production does not exceed $20,000, for up to 16 performances. For use by a producing organization up to three times per season, this code puts LA in alignment with other areas of the country. The Showcase Code provides for reimbursement of actual expenses, favored nations compensation and future rights for actors in subsequent productions.

About Tracey Paleo

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Tracey Paleo is Associate Editor at FootLights Magazine. She's also the Founder and Chief Editor of the arts and culture site, Gia On The Move, where she often reviews live performance events.

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One comment

  1. Aren’t you missing the Member Produced Code and the Membership Company Rule?

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